Silene menziesii (Menzies' Catchfly) - photos and description



Plant trailing down a rock cliff.



Female flowers in above photo, styles curved at their tip and some styles extend beyond the petals.

Female flower in above photo, styles curved at their tip and styles extend beyond the petals.

Male flower in above photo. I count 10 stamens in the above flower.


General: Perennial with a slender rootstalk and with a trailing to decumbent growth habit. Foliage is densely pubescent with glandular hairs, making it sticky to touch. Stems near the base are reddish-purple.

Flowers: Plants are described as "functionally dioecious" in Flora of the Great Plains (dioecious = male and female flowers on separate plants) i.e. "stamens exserted in functionally male flowers, vestigial or absent in female flowers" (Flora of the Great Plains).

Flowers are white, growing in a terminal, loose inflorescence. Female flowers with 3 styles, the styles slightly longer than the petals. Male flowers with 10 stamens. The petals are two-lobed, divided to almost half their length, the petals may or may not have a small tooth on each margin at about the midpoint of the petal. We measured  petals to 5 mm long, sepals 3 mm long and purple-tinged, flowers to 9 mm in diameter, the calyx is somewhat inflated and was measured to 10 mm long. Pedicels to 20 mm long.

Leaves: Cauline leaves are opposite, sessile, reduced in size upwards, lanceolate to oblanceolate in shape. We measured a leaf at 3 cm long by 1 cm wide. Basal leaves are deciduous by the time the plant is flowering.

Height: Height listed in Budd's Flora to 40 cm tall, we measured stems to 22 cm long.

Habitat: Listed as moist woodlands, I've seen it twice on rocky slopes in the Cypress Hills.

Abundance: Rare, ranked as an S3 (as of 2021) by the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre.

Origin: Native.

When and where photographed: Photos taken June 23rd, base of rocky cliff, Cypress Hills,  about 400 km south west of our home in Regina, SK.