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Caryophyllaceae: Pink Family Plant Identification Characteristics

Dianthus armeria. Deptford pink.

Caryophyllaceae
Plants of the Pink Family

      The next time you see a carnation or pink (Dianthus), stop and examine the vegetation and the flower. The coarse, durable stem and leaves are characteristic of this family. The leaves are usually positioned opposite on the stems, but are sometimes whorled. Members of the Pink family have regular, bisexual flowers with 5 sepals (rarely 4). The sepals can be united or separate. There are 5 separate petals (rarely 4, or sometimes numerous in domestic varieties). The petals are often split at the ends. There are 5 or 10 stamens (rarely 3 or 4), appearing in one or two whorls. The ovary is positioned superior and consists of 2 to 5 (rarely 1) united carpels (syncarpous) forming a single chamber. (Silene is apocarpous.) The ovary matures as a dry capsule with numerous seeds and opens by valves at the top. Worldwide, there are about 80 genera and 2,000 species. About 20 genera are found in North America.

      Baby's breath and chickweed are well-known members. Many species of the family contain at least a small amount of saponin, most notably the soapwort plant (Saponaria). Plants with a significant saponin content can be mashed in water and used as a soap substitute or added to a pool or slow moving stream as fish poison to stupefy the fish so they will float to the surface. Several plants in the Pink family have edible greens or seeds.

Key Words:
Coarse plants with opposite leaves and
(usually) split petal-ends with flower parts in fives.

Please e-mail Thomas J. Elpel to report mistakes or to inquire about purchasing high resolution photos of these plants.


Arenaria rossii. Sandwort.

Arenaria rossii. Sandwort.

Arenaria sp. Sandwort.

Arenaria sp. Sandwort.

Cerastium arvense. Field Chickweed.

Cerastium arvense. Field Chickweed.

Cerastium arvense. Field Chickweed.

Cerastium arvense. Field Chickweed.

Stellaria media. Chickweed.

Stellaria media. Chickweed.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West
Silene acaulis. Moss Campion.

Silene acaulis. Moss Campion.

Silene vulgaris. Bladder Campion.

Silene vulgaris. Bladder Campion. An introduced weed from Europe. It spreads by both seeds and roots.

Silene latifolia or Silene alba, Lychnis alba. White Campion.

Silene latifolia. White Campion.
(A.K.A. Silene alba, Lychnis alba).

Silene latifolia or Silene alba, Lychnis alba. White Campion.

Silene latifolia. White Campion.
(A.K.A. Silene alba, Lychnis alba).

Gypsophila paniculata. Baby's Breath.

Gypsophila paniculata. Baby's Breath.

Gypsophila paniculata. Baby's Breath.

Gypsophila paniculata. Baby's Breath.

There are more
Pink Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Identify plants with
Botany in a Day
Foraging the Mountain West
Start feasting with
Foraging the Mountain West

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Books
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Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
Quest

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