Vaccaria hispanica (Mill.) Rauschert
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Vaccaria hispanica image
Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913  
Plants glabrous, glaucous. Stems 20-100 cm. Leaf blades 2-10 cm, base cuneate to cordate. Cymes open, 16-50(-100)-flowered. Pedicels (5-)10-30(-55) mm. Flowers: calyx 9-17 mm, with 5 prominent, usually green, winged angles or ridges, each ridge with strong, cordlike marginal vein; petals with claw 8-14 mm, blade 3-8 mm. Capsules included in calyx tube. Seeds 2-2.5 mm wide. 2n = 30. Flowering spring-summer. Fields, waste places; 0-2400 m; introduced; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., N.S., Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon; Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.; Eurasia; widely naturalized elsewhere. If the genus Vaccaria is treated as monotypic, V. hispanica then includes four subspecies, and our material is subsp. hispanica. Vaccaria hispanica still occasionally is included in Saponaria (e.g., F. Swink and G. S. Wilhelm 1994). Once a common weed of grain fields (like Agrostemma githago), it is now increasingly rare or has been extirpated in many localities; the distribution stated above may be the historical maximum, rather than current, North American distribution. The saponin-containing seeds of this species are poisonous upon ingestion.

Annual herb with a stout taproot 20 cm - 1 m tall Stem: unbranched below, becoming much-branched above, with a waxy coating (glaucous). Leaves: opposite, stalked (basal), stalkless (stem), somewhat clasping or fused at the base, 2 - 10 cm long, to 4 cm wide, lance-shaped to narrowly egg-shaped with a tapering to heart-shaped base and pointed tip, one-veined, with a waxy coating (glaucous). Inflorescence: a terminal, loose, open cluster (paniculate cyme) of sixteen to fifty (or more) flowers, subtended by a pair of leaf-like bracts. Flowers: pink. Stalk upright, 1 - 3 cm long. Stamens ten, exserted. Styles two. Sepals: fused at the base into a tube (calyx). Calyx tube whitish green, 0.9 - 1.7 cm long, egg- to flask-shaped, five-veined, with five strongly winged ridges. Each ridge bears a strong marginal vein. Lobes green, shorter than tube, one-veined. Petals: five, pink, clawed. Claw 8 - 14 mm long. Blade 3 - 8 mm long and reverse egg-shaped with a slightly notched tip. Fruit: a dehiscent capsule, included in calyx tube, opening by four slightly spreading teeth, 6 - 8 mm long. Seeds about ten, reddish brown to black, 2 - 2.5 mm wide, nearly spherical, laterally compressed, bumpy.

Similar species: No information at this time.

Flowering: mid-June to late July

Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Europe. Rare in the Chicago Region. Has been found near railroads and grain elevators.

Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native

Etymology: Vaccaria comes from the Latin words vacca, meaning cow, and -aria meaning "pertaining to," referring to its alleged value for fodder. Hispanica means "of or from Spain."

Author: The Morton Arboretum

From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
This species has been reported from 9 counties. My specimens are from a roadside and the right of way of a railroad. While there are several reports, it is doubtful whether this species will spread a great deal or whether it will be able to maintain itself.


Indiana Coefficient of Conservatism: C = null, non-native

Wetland Indicator Status: UPL

Taprooted annual, 2-6 dm, branched above, glabrous and glaucous; cauline lvs 5-10 נ2-4 cm, lanceolate to lance-ovate, acute, clasping or the lower connate; cal 12-17 mm, ovoid or flask-shaped; pet 18-22 mm, pink, the blade 6-8 mm, obovate, retuse; stamens exsert; fr 6-8 mm; seeds 2-2.6 mm, minutely tuberculate, reddish-brown to black; 2n=30. Native of Europe, widely distributed as a weed through temperate N. Amer. (V. pyramidata; V. segetalis; V. vaccaria; Saponaria vaccaria)

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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