White campion (white cockle)

Silene latifolia Poir.

Life cycle

Annual, biennial or short-lived perennial. 

Leaves

Seedling leaves initially develop from a basal rosette. Basal leaves are attached to the stem by petioles; stem leaves are without petioles. Leaves are opposite, softly hairy with a grayish tinge, and lance-shaped to oval with a pointed tip and smooth to slightly wavy leaf margins.

white campion rosette white campion leaf
White campion rosette (left). Opposite leaves of white campion (right).

Stems

Soft, hairy stems are erect or semi-erect at maturity, and up to 3 feet tall. Stems have swollen nodes and often branch at the base.

Flowers and fruit

Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. Flowers have five showy, white petals, each with a deep V-shaped notch at the tip. Just below the petals are fused and inflated sepals that create a balloon-like appearance. Fruit are light brown, vase-shaped capsules with 10 teeth at the open end. Each capsule contains numerous brown to gray, kidney-shaped seeds.

white campion flower side white campion flower
Balloon-like sepals of white campion (left). Deeply notched petals of white campion (right).

Reproduction

Seeds and root fragmentation.

Similar weeds

Bladder campion [S. vulgaris (Moench) Garcke] Differs by having a strong perennial nature, hairless stems and leaves, and globeshaped fruiting capsules.

Nightflowering catchfly (S. noctiflora L.) Differs by having an annual habit, sticky hairs on the stems and leaves, flowers containing both male and female organs, and fruiting capsules with six teeth at the open end. 

bladder campion flower
Bladder campion flower.

Print a PDF of this page: White campion

Back to identifying Christmas tree weeds.

The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.