Vegetative identification of Campions

Does anyone have an opinion on this.

Is it possible to separate Red and White campions vegetatively?

A recent posting would normally have me agreeing. However I am not sure what I am basing my opinion on. It is probably the idth of the leaves and general (but indefinable) growth pattern.

I looked up in Poland and Clement and the separator in that is a habitat shady vs sunny dry which is not always definable.

There are also hybrids to confuse it even more.

Having said all this I would bet money that the observation is of a Red campion.


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I’m not a botanist but coincidentally have been looking at the campions for a project. This might help you, Mark:

The habitat is not always reliable (though I’d be willing to put large populations in “ancient” woodland down as Silene dioica) - I’ve seen the two species growing side by side. (And the hybrid is quite common.)

Thanks I had not seen it before


Useful discussion, thanks

I thought it interesting that the AI suggestion for the post you cite is is S x hampeana.

For many years the propensity of S. dioica and S. latifolia (S alba as was) to hybridise has been recorded; more recently molecular studies have given further insights which are not necessarily, (but not necessarily not) helpful in this case.

In the field the two species seem to be ‘kept apart’ by ecological (as in the Poland & Clement key) rather than genetic systems and wherever they meet hybrids occur. These are intermediate in characters between the parents. The hybrids are fertile and they backcross so it seems reasonable to expect to come across plants across the whole spectrum. I am wondering if the hybrid and the generations of backcrossing are what we often see in lowland Britain.

I have just noticed that the front cover of Stace 2019 is S. dioica var zetlandica from Shetland.