HABIT: Erect, unbranched herbaceous perennial from a caudex on a
taproot, 6-15 dm.; flowering late June-August.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Only two other Ohio Silene species have
bright scarlet flowers like S. regia: S. virginiana and S.
rotundifolia. S. regia is tall (to 15 dm.), erect, and mostly
unbranched. Flower petals are rounded and cauline leaves are many (15-20
pairs), round-based, and sessile. S. virginiana is shorter (to 8 dm.)
with weak stems. Flower petals are bilobed and cauline leaves are fewer (to 15
pairs) and narrowly oblanceolate. S. rotundifolia is short (to 7 dm.)
with weak, branched, and decumbent stems. Flower petals are bilobed and cauline
leaves are few (to 8 pr.) and broadly lanceolate to suborbicular
TOTAL RANGE: E. MO, s. IL, OH, KY, TN, to n. AL and GA.
STATE RANGE: There are post-1960 records from 6 central
Ohio counties: Champaign, Clark,
Greene, Madison, Marion, and Union. There is a pre-1960 record from Montgomery
County. King (1981) cites records from Fairfield, Franklin, and Hamilton
counties as well as dubious reports from Holmes and Tuscarawas counties.
STATE STATUS: 1980-1983: Endangered, 1984-1987:
Threatened, 1988 to present: Potentially Threatened.
HABITAT: Prairies and open woods. In Ohio, the species is found in prairie
remnants, cemeteries, railroad and powerline rights-of-way, and roadsides.
HAZARDS: Overgrowth by woody species due to succession, casual picking of
flowers, digging by wildflower gardeners, use of herbicides on railroad and
powerline rights-of-way. However, the greatest threat appears to be the spread
of the non-native smooth brome (Bromus inermis) into prairie remnants.
RECOVERY POTENTIAL: Possibly good.
Transplants easily and is known to reproduce well from seed. However, few new
locations are likely to be found and several known locations have become
degraded over the last 20 years.
INVENTORY GUIDELINES: Collect mature flowering material; collect aboveground
parts only. Collecting should be restricted to newly discovered populations.
COMMENTS: This is one of Ohio's most beautiful and
conspicuous wildflowers. The state range may be accurately known. Because of
its scarlet flowers, it has been suggested that S. regia is closely
related to S. virginiana. The two will form hybrids, but these are
sterile. S. virginiana does, however, form fertile hybrids with S.
caroliniana. This indicates that S. regia is further removed from S.
virginiana than other species that do not have the scarlet flowers.
H.A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United
States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.
C.L. and B. Maguire. 1947. A revision of the North American species of Silene.
Univ. Wash. Pub. Bio. 13: 1-73.
1981. Distribution of royal catchfly (Silene regia) with Special
reference to Ohio populations. p. 131-141,
In: Stuckey, R., and K. Reese, eds., The prairie peninsula - in
the "shadow" of Transeau: Proc. Sixth North American Prairie
Conference. Ohio Biol. Surv. Biol. Notes, No. 15. 278 p.
A.R. 1964. Artificial crosses involving eastern North American Silenes.
Brittonia 16: 95-105.
of Natural Areas and Preserves
Department of Natural Resources
6/1981 David Emmitt
1/1984 Allison Cusick
7/2000 Greg Schneider