Lychnis coronaria (L.) Desr.
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Lychnis coronaria image
Perennial herb 40 cm - 0.8 m tall Inflorescence: a loose, widely branched cluster (cyme) of a few flowers. One flower terminating each stalk (peduncle). Peduncles reaching 8 cm long when in fruit. Flowers: few, bright red, on 0.5 - 1 cm long stalks. Stamens ten. Styles five. Sepals: forming a cylindrical tube (calyx). Calyx 1 - 1.5 cm long, 10-veined, woolly, with five short lobes. Lobes 4 - 7 mm long, narrowly lance-shaped, converging, and twisted. Petals: five, bright red, 2 - 3 cm long, broadly reverse egg-shaped, long-clawed. Fruit: a dehiscent capsule (opening by five teeth), 1.2 - 1.6 cm long. Seeds numerous, brown, about 1 mm long. Stems: multiple from base, upright, stout, unbranched (rarely branched), woolly. Basal leaves: in a rosette, 5 - 10 cm long, 1 - 3 cm wide, spatula-shaped with a pointed tip, woolly. Stem leaves: opposite, five- to ten- paired, stalkless, usually smaller than basal leaves, reduced upwards, egg-shaped to egg- lance-shaped with a pointed tip, woolly.

Similar species: Although the similar Lychnis chalcedonica is hairy, it is not woolly like L. coronaria.

Flowering: July to early September

Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Europe. Sometimes grown as an ornamental. A rare escape from cultivation, usually along roadsides. It has also been found in a degraded prairie under high-tension lines.

Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native

Etymology: Lychnis comes from the Greek word lychnos, meaning lamp, referring to the flame colored flowers. Coronaria means "used for or pertaining to garlands."

Author: The Morton Arboretum

Gray-tomentose perennial 4-8 dm, the stout stems rarely branched; basal lvs 5-10 נ1-3 cm, the cauline 5-10 pairs, usually smaller; fls few, the pedicels 5-10 mm; cal 12-15 mm, the narrowly lanceolate lobes 4-7 mm, connivent, twisted; pet crimson, 2-3 cm, without auricles, the appendages narrowly lanceolate, 1.5-2.5 mm, the blade broadly obovate, entire or emarginate, 10-15 mm; fr 12-16 mm; 2n=24. Native of Europe, often escaped from cult. in our range. June-Aug.

Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.

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