This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Herbs, mainly erect, some with the aspect of Silene. Calyx ovoid, tubular, or inflated, 5-toothed, 10-nerved. Petals 5, narrowly clawed, the blade entire, 2-cleft, or laciniate, generally crowned. Stamens 10. Ovary I-celled or incompletely several-celled at the base; many-ovuled; styles 5, opposite the calyx-teeth (occasionally 4 or rarely even 3). Capsule dehiscent by 10 or fewer apical teeth or valves. [From the Greek, for lamp, in allusion to the flame-colored flowers of some species.]
A genus of about 35 species, natives of the north temperate and arctic zones. In addition to the following about 8 others occur in the northern and western parts of North America. Type species: Lychnis chalcedonica L.
Flowers cymose or panicled; calyx enlarged by the ripening pod.
Fruiting calyx much enlarged, ovoid, obovoid or globose.
Plants viscid-pubescent; flowers usually dioecious.
Flowers red, opening in the morning.
Plant roughish-pubescent; flowers perfect, scarlet.
Fruiting calyx campanulate or tubular.
Petals large, deeply laciniate; introduced species.
Petals small, entire or emarginate; native western species.
Flowers solitary; calyx inflated; plants arctic-alpine.
Flower nodding; pod erect.
Flower and pod erect or nearly so.
Calyx-teeth twisted; plant densely white-woolly all over.
Biennial, viscid-pubescent, loosely and freely branching, 1°-2° high. Leaves ovate-oblong or ovate-lanceolate, acute, 1'-3' long, the lower tapering into a margined petiole, the upper sessile; flowers few, loosely paniculate, 9"-12" broad, white or pinkish, opening at dusk and remaining open into the morning of the next day, slightly fragrant, often dioecious; calyx at first tubular, 6"-9" long, about 2" wide, swelling with the ripening pod so as to become ovoid and 6"-7" in diameter, its teeth short, lanceolate; petals obovate, 2-cleft, crowned; teeth of the capsule 2-cleft, nearly erect.
In waste places and on ballast, Nova Scotia to Ontario, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. Ad-ventive or naturalized from Europe. Snake-, cuckoo-or thunder-flower. Bull- or cow-rattle. White-robin. Summer.