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.
Loosely branched at the base, with ascending or erect stems a foot or more long, of a glaucous green, and usually glabrous. Leaves ovate, oblong, or rarely nearly linear, and usually pointed. Flowers few, white, or pinkish in the mountains, often slightly drooping, in loose terminal panicles. Calyx becoming at length globular, inflated, and much veined. Petals deeply 2-cleft. A variable species, especially in the mountains, where it sometimes assumes a pinkish tinge, as in the plate.
Fields, waste places, and Alpine pastures; very common. April to August.
All Europe, Western and Central Asia, Northern Africa, N. America. British.
In Mr. F. N. Williams' European Varieties of Silene inflata1 he describes the var. alpina, Mert. and Koch, and mentions that it was gathered by the present writer on the Col du Galibier in Dau-phiny at 2440 m., "the greatest altitude hitherto recorded for the plant." It was however, recorded at 3000 m. on the Gorner Grat,2 by Heer.
Rootstock densely covered with leaves; stem simple, ascending, 3-6 inches high, finely glandular, hairy above. Root-leaves lanceolate, acute, narrowed at the base; stem-leaves ovate-lanceolate. Flowers 1-3, terminal, very large and handsome, bright pink; lamina of petals obcordate, fan-shaped, cut and toothed. Calyx 5-cleft.
1 In Bulletin de l'Herbier Boissier (1908).
2 Professor Lino Vaccari, La Flora Nivale del Monte Rosa (1911), p. 14.
Alpine pastures on limestone, 4000-5000 feet; rare. June, July.
South-west Tyrol, Val Vestino.
Root tapering, branched, with woody shoots, tufted. Stems erect or ascending, 6-12 inches high, stiff, glabrous, or with scattered hairs, dichotomously branched above, and viscid at upper part, like the flower-stalks. Leaves lanceolate, acute or obtuse, thick, entire, ciliated near the base, otherwise glabrous, connate; lower leaves narrowed into a foot-stalk. Flowers in a terminal, loose few-flowered cyme, white or pinkish. Petals 4-5 toothed. Corona acutely toothed. Calyx finely glandular, downy, or rough, erect, not changed when fruit is ripe; calyx teeth ovate, obtuse. Capsule twice as long as calyx, 1-celled, dehiscent, with twice as many teeth as styles. Seeds reniform, compressed, surrounded at edge by a radiate, 4-nerved crest of linear scales.
Abundant in the calcareous Alps and lower Alps, 3000-6000 feet, often descending into the valleys with debris. May to August.
Carpathians, Eastern Alps (Tyrol to Carinthia).
Root tapering, branched, tufted, with woody shoots. Stem prostrate or ascending, swollen at the nodes, 4-6 inches high, grass-green like the leaves, usually simple, finely downy or glabrous above, 1-2 flowered, rarely more. Leaves narrowly linear, acute, entire, rough at the edge, sessile, with narrowed connate bases. Calyx turbinate, 10-nerved, glabrous, erect, pale green or brownish; calyx-teeth ovate or obtuse. Flowers white or pink within, greenish red without; Petals 2-cleft. Corona scale-like.
Stony places and debris on the calcareous lower Alps; local. Up to 6600 feet in Valais.
Carpathians, Switzerland to Carinthia. In cultivation there must be lime in the soil, and it should have plenty of sun.