PINK FAMILY - Caryophyllaceae: Wild Pink or Catchfly
Silene pennsylvanica (S. caroliniana)
Flowers--Rose pink, deep or very pale; about 1 inch broad, on slender footstalks, in terminal clusters. Calyx tubular, 5-toothed, much enlarged in fruit, sticky; 5 petals with claws enclosed in calyx, wedge-shaped above, slightly notched. Stamens 10; pistil with 3 styles. Stem: 4 to 10 in. high, hairy, sticky above, growing in tufts. Leaves: Basal ones spatulate; 2 or 3 pairs of lance-shaped, smaller leaves seated on stem.
Preferred Habitat--Dry, gravelly, sandy, or rocky soil.
Distribution--New England, south to Georgia, westward to Kentucky.
Fresh, dainty, and innocent-looking as Spring herself are these
bright flowers. Alas, for the tiny creatures that try to climb up the
rosy tufts to pilfer nectar, they and their relatives are not so
innocent as they appear! While the little crawlers are almost within
reach of the cup of sweets, their feet are gummed to the viscid matter
that coats it, and here their struggles end as flies' do on sticky
fly-paper, or birds' on limed twigs. A naturalist counted sixty-two
little corpses on the sticky stem of a single pink. All this tragedy
to protect a little nectar for the butterflies which, in sipping it,
transfer the pollen from one flower to another, and so help them to
produce the most beautiful and robust offspring.