The Red Campion (Silene dioica) or Coireán coilleach in Irish can now be seen displaying its rose-pink, attractive flowers in the shade of hedgerows, woodland clearings, meadows, cliffs and grassy banks (1).
This is a short-lived perennial plant, 30cm to 1m tall which continues to flower into June and July. The hairy leaves grow in opposite pairs along the stem which is also hairy (2).
The pink, scentless flowers have five petals which have deep notches. Male and female flowers do not grow on the same plant. Flowers such as these are labelled as dioecious. The male flowers have ten stamens; the female ones have five stigmas. They are visited by bees, butterflies, moths and flies with long tongues, so it is a useful plant for promoting biodiversity.
The black, rough seeds are formed in toothed capsules which eventually split open to scatter the seeds about in July and August. These self-seed readily of their own accord. However, they can be collected before the capsule bursts open, and they can be sown in the autumn or spring for the wildflower garden (3).
This plant is locally frequent in the North and East of Ireland but rare in the rest of the country. In Britain, however, it is very common.