Western Isles Wildflowers
Western Isles wildflowers is a collection of information about our Hebridean wildflowers including identification hints, traditional herbal uses and general plant lore.
Silene vulgaris subsp. maritima
Gaelic names: Coirean na Mara, Oigh na Mara
Sea campion is a perennial plant. In the Wesern Isles it mostly grows on cliff-ledges, liking well-drained soil in full sun, but does also grow on inland mountains.
It has grey-green leaves, narrow, tapering at the ends (lanceolate) which are arranged in pairs along the stems, they are of a fleshy nature, this helps to protects the plant from drying out in the salt-laden winds.
This wildflower grows to about 30cm - 12 inches tall, forming loose mats of foliage and flowers, it lies on the ground and tends to rise at the ends (decumbent)
The white flowers are about 2cm, with petals that are deeply notched and a distinctive
outermost floral envelope (calyx), it mostly has just one flower per stem (solitary) and flowers June to August.
Sea campion is a native plant of the Western Isles.
Sea campion used to be known as dead man's bells or devil's hatties. It was one of those plants which because of superstition were never picked or brought into the house for fear of tempting death. With the habitat of the plant being cliff-ledges, collecting it certainly was a dangerous act.
The campions are members of the carnation family, several of which grow as wildflowers in the Western Isles: sea campion , white campion, red campion, moss campion, and the closely related ragged robin.
Photography © Suzanne Harris
Shiant Islands - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
30th June, 2007