Closely caespitose, one to two inches high. Leaves: linear, crowded. Flowers: small, solitary, subsessile or slightly raised on naked curved peduncles; calyx narrowly campanulate; petals pink, purple or white, obcordate.
The Moss Campion will be found by those who climb to great altitudes, for it grows near the highest summits of the mountains and has been discovered at the immense elevation of 10,000 feet. It is a dwarf arctic-alpine plant. The tiny leaves, which are very numerous and extremely narrow and pointed, distinguish it from Saxifraga oppositifolia, or Mountain Saxifrage, which has similar flowers but distinctly broader leaves.
Close to the eternal snows, where the last line of vegetation grows prostrate upon the earth, so rare the air, so scarce and poor the soil, "There, cleaving to the ground, it lies . With multitude of purple eyes Spangling a cushion green like moss."
Surely Wordsworth must have found the Moss Campion amongst his beloved Grasmere Hills, otherwise he could not have penned so perfect a description of its starry flowers with their five pink, purple or very occasionally white petals wide-blown by the mountain breeze.
The Moss Campion has a very large tap-root, and springing from it are the slender branching stems, which form dense tufts from six to twenty inches in diameter and resemble a coarse moss. Down into these tufts the flowers are closely set.
Moss Campion (Silene acaulis)