Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Fire Pink

This week's Friday Fabulous Flower is the fire pink (Silene [sigh-lean-ee] virginica), which isn't the only plant to have this common name. Pink isn't just a color, or a minor league celebrity (something you learn when you do a search on "pink"), but a flowering plant family that includes carnations. You can recognize pinks by their opposite leaves, knobby nodes (where leaves are attached), and 5-parted flowers whose petals are apically notched, toothed, or "chewed" looking. This particular species has bright red flowers, a nice mid-summer addition to a perennial garden, and some people may think the name "fire" refers to the color, but actually the name comes from the fact that certain plants tend to show up, brightly, after a fire has removed dense understory vegetation. But species in this genus are also called by the common name "catch-fly". The reason for this is that the leaves, stems, and calyces are covered with glandular hairs each sporting a gummy drop of exudate. While this leaves the plant feeling sticky to us, these hairs are deadly to small insects as the picture demonstrates. Wow! Every now and then plants win one (mine even caught a Japanese beetle!). Way to go!

1 comment:

Pat said...

Wow, all the silenes tend to be lovely but that is a particularly striking one that I have not seen before.

I remember reading lately that a lot more plants are carnivorous than had previously been thought.