Annual or perennial herbs, with opposite, entire leaves, and no stipules, except in a few genera which have small, scarious stipules; the branches usually knotted at each pair of leaves. Flowers frequently in dichotomous cymes or panicles. Sepals 4 or 5, free or united into a tubular calyx. Petals 4 or 5, twisted in the bud, sometimes minute. Stamens free, inserted under the ovary. Styles 2 to 5, linear, stigmatic along their whole length. Capsule 1-celled, or divided into cells at the base only, opening at the top into twice as many teeth as there are styles. Ovules numerous.

A large family widely spread over the globe, and very numerous in temperate regions, especially in the northern hemisphere, extending into the Arctic Circle and to the summits of the Alps. The genera into which species are distributed are often very artificial, depending on the number of sepals, petals, stamens, or styles. As these numbers are not strictly constant, even in different flowers of the same species, care must be taken in some of the small-flowered Alsinece to count the parts of several flowers if hesitation be felt as to the genus it should be referred to.

Dianthus L. Pink

Stiff perennials, or more rarely annuals, with narrow leaves. Calyx tubular-campanulate, 5-toothed, with 2-6 imbricating scales at the base. Petals usually crenate, or jagged. Stamens 10. Styles 2. Capsule stalked within the calyx, opening at the top in 4 teeth or short valves.

A large genus, spread over Europe and Asia, with a few in S. Africa.

Dianthus Prolifer L. (Tunica Prolifer A Scop)

A stiff, erect, glabrous, annual species, simple or with a few erect branches, 6-12 inches high. Leaves few, narrow, erect, and usually pointed. Flowers small, pink, in compact, oblong terminal heads, the calyx concealed by broad, dry, shining, imbricated scales, from the top of which the small, spreading petals appear.

Dry places, roadsides, and hilly pastures, from the plains to the sub-alpine region, as, e.g. in the Gorge de Trient at about 3500 feet. May to September.


Almost all Europe; Western Asia, N. Africa. British.

A hairy, glandular variety, with longer sheath to the leaves and pedicelled calyx, is called D. velutinus Guss.

Dianthus Saxifragus L. (Tunica Saxifraga Scop)

Stem slender, glabrous, 6-8 inches high, with spreading branches. Leaves linear-acute. Corolla pale rose, veined, small, solitary. Calyx bell-shaped. Capsule ovoid.

Arid places from the plains up to about 5500 feet in the Alps, as e.g. near Evolene in 1911. June to August.


From the Pyrenees and France to Eastern Europe; Western Asia as far as Persia. It has recently appeared in Pembrokeshire as an escape from cultivation.

Tunica is a small genus, not always separated from Dianthus, and differing from it in the calyx being pentagonous and the corolla having no corona.