This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Calyx tubular, 5-toothed, without scales at the base. Petals with a corona. Disc small. Styles 2. Ovary 2-celled at the base. Capsule 4-valved.
This genus, artificially distinguished by the number of styles, as Bentham says, comprises several European and West Asiatic species.
1 On granite its place is taken by Silene rupestris.
Stem trailing. Plant hairy, glandular at the top. Leaves broadly lanceolate or oblong, ciliated, with 1 nerve. Flowers bright rose, sometimes paler, and rarely white, shortly petioled, in panicles. Calyx cylindric, hairy, glandular, with 15-20 nerves and obtuse teeth, often very red. Capsule oval, 4 times the length of the glabrous carpophore.
Stony places and limestone rocks in full sun. May to July. In the Alps it extends up to 7800 feet, but it is by no means a purely Alpine plant, being, e.g. found over the greater portion of hilly France.
Central and Southern Europe from the Iberian peninsula to Bavaria and Carinthia; Corsica, Sardinia.
Of very easy culture in sunny positions in deep, loamy soil. Being such a good trailer it is best to plant it so that it will fall over or decorate a rock or bank. It prefers dry soils, and is often killed in wet English winters.
This tall and rather handsome species, with large pink flowers, is sometimes seen by streams in the foot-hills of Switzerland and France.
Saponaria Vaccaria L. is an annual found in waste places and in crops. In 1911 it was growing in a crop of flax above Argentiere, near Chamonix, at a height of 4500 feet.
Calyx tubular or inflated, with 5 teeth. Petals 5, with erect claws and a spreading lamina, entire or 2-cleft. Stamens 10. Styles 5, or very rarely 4. Capsule 1-celled, or divided at the base into 5 cells, and opening in 5 or 10 teeth or short valves at the top.
About 40 species, widely spread over the northern hemisphere without the tropics.
In Alpine Plants of Europe, p. 80, this plant, now usually called Viscaria alpina Don, was erroneously stated to be unrecorded from Switzerland. As a matter of fact it is occasionally found in Grisons (Engadine, Poschiavo, etc.), the Bernese Oberland (Gemmi), and the Valais, as at Zermatt and above Zinal (at 8500 feet in August, 1911). It does not appear to descend to the sub-alpine region of Central Europe, but we have seen it in the Eastern Pyrenees in abundance in some of the more open pine forests at about 5500 feet. It extends upwards in that district to 7000 feet.
Stems 6 inches to a foot high, glabrous, very viscid in the upper part. Leaves long and narrow, resembling those of the last species.
Flowers red, in close, sessile, or shortly stalked, opposite clusters, forming an oblong panicle or head. Calyx tubular, with 10 veins and 5 short teeth. Petals slightly notched. Rocks and hilly pastures. May to July.
Central and Northern Europe to Norway; Siberia; Caucasus; a few places in N. Wales and Scotland.