Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Deptford pink

Not all invasive, exotic plants, aliens, immigrants, are bad.  The Deptford pink (Dianthus armeria) isn't a problem of any sort that TPP knows of and it makes itself quite at home in a prairie.  It appears to blend into the forb ensemble quite amicably.  Mostly it goes unnoticed because it's a very slender, small-leafed plant up to about 2-2.5 feet tall topped by some very pretty, but very small flowers (about 1 cm in diameter).  It would be a nice addition to a wild flower perennial garden, and will grow in some very poor soil under pretty dry conditions. The plant sways easily in the wind, and since the target is small, photographing the flowers in the field is a challenge; here's a shot that was grabbed while collecting data the other week.  Like pinks in general the petals are notched or toothed at the apex, and in this species pink petals splotched with white.  Deptford is a town in the UK where this plant grew abundantly; somehow this name stuck with it in North America.  Our local variety tends to be a bit paler pink than populations elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

hi dear Phactor,

i am afraid that Deptford is now just a part of the east end of London. Pinks are probably now only to be found in flower boxes.

There is the real possibility that this pink (Dianthus armeria)never actually grew in Deptford. The plant described by Gerard " which groweth..especially in the great field next to Detford" was from his description (of a creeping plant) almost certainly the "Maiden Pink", Dianthus deltoides.

In 1633, the herbalist Thomas Johnson illustrated D.armeria and confusing the two species attached the "Deptford Pink" name to this plant...and it has stuck and crossed an ocean.



The Phytophactor said...

BrianO - Thanks.
Much appreciated correction. Didn't know Gerard described it so.