Flora of the Southeastern United States
2022 Edition

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Key to Silene

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1 Styles mostly 5; capsule with 5 or 10 teeth; calyx tubular at anthesis, becoming strongly inflated later in S. dioica and S. latifolia.
..2 Petal limbs deeply divided into 4 linear segments; [Lychnis section Uebelinia]
..2 Petal limbs unlobed, emarginate, or shallowly 2-lobed.
....3 Leaf blades with dense silky white hairiness; flowers bisexual; [Lychnis section Agrostemma]
....3 Leaf blades variously pubescent, but not with silky-appressed pubescence; [Silene section Melandrium].
......4 Petals pink; capsule teeth revolute
......4 Petals white; capsule teeth spreading to slightly reflexed
1 Styles mostly 3; capsule with 3 or 6 teeth; calyx tubular or campanulate at anthesis, not greatly inflated (except in S. vulgaris).
........5 Middle cauline leaves in whorls of 4; petals fimbriate
........5 Middle cauline leaves opposite; petals entire, slightly erose, bilobed, 2-cleft, or 8+-cleft.
..........6 Flowers bright red.
............7 Petals entire or slightly erose at the tip; cauline leaves 5-20 pairs.
..............8 Stems pubescent, glandular upwards; cauline leaves 10-20 pairs
..............8 Stems glabrous; cauline leaves 5-12 pairs
............7 Petals 2-cleft at the tip; cauline leaves 2-8 pairs.
................9 Cauline leaves 2.0-7.0 cm wide, elliptic, obovate, or orbicular, usually 1-2× as long as wide; entire plant sticky glandular-pubescent; [of sandstone cliffs and crevices, in our area only in sw. VA]
................9 Cauline leaves 0.8-4.0 cm wide, mostly oblanceolate, usually at least 2.5× as long as wide; plant not covered with sticky glandular hairs; [of various, mostly rocky, habitats, widespread in our area].
..................10 Cauline leaves (excluding bracteal leaves) in 2-4 pairs; basal leaves not conspicuously clustered; [mountains of e. WV, se. KY, and e. TN]
..................10 Cauline leaves (excluding bracteal leaves) in 1 (-2) pairs; basal leaves often numerous and clustered; [widespread in our area]
..........6 Flowers white or pink.
....................11 Petals 8-cleft or more divided; plants perennial; [native].
......................12 Plants 2-6 dm tall; petals pink, the >8 ultimate segments of each dichotomously forked at nearly right angles; calyx ca. 2.5 cm long; stem with long, villous pubescence
......................12 Plants (5-) 7-15 dm tall; petals white, the 8 segments of each essentially parallel to one another; calyx ca. 1 cm long; stem with short rigid pubescence
....................11 Petals entire, bilobed, or 2-cleft; plants 0.5-8 dm tall, perennial or annual; [either alien weeds occurring mostly in disturbed sites, or native in forests, woodlands, or rock outcrops].
........................13 Plant < 2.5 dm tall; plant perennial, with a stout, carrot-like taproot; [native, of woodlands, rock outcrops, barrens, glades, and dry roadbanks].
..........................14 Calyx pubescence of long, straight, nonglandular hairs; [of OH, WV, VA, and MO south to AL]
..........................14 Calyx pubescence of glandular hairs; [of NC and ne. TN northward in and east of the Appalachians].
............................15 Leaves pubescent over the surface with appressed, white hairs, also ciliate on the margin; basal leaves mostly obtuse to rounded at the apex, to 12 cm long and 3 cm wide; [of NC south]
............................15 Leaves glabrous on the surface, ciliate on the margin; basal leaves mostly acute to obtuse at the apex, to 15 cm long and 2 cm wide; [of NC north]
........................13 Plant usually 2-8 dm tall (depauperate individuals rarely smaller); plant annual or biennial (perennial from a creeping rhizome in S. nivea and S. vulgaris), lacking a carrot-like taproot; [alien, mostly of disturbed habitats (except S. nivea and S. antirrhina).
..............................16 Calyx with 20-30 parallel veins.
................................17 Calyx glabrous
................................17 Calyx pubescent and usually glandular.
..................................18 Mature calyx 8-15 mm long; seeds 0.6-0.9 mm broad
..................................18 Mature calyx 20-30 mm long; seeds 1.3-1.8 mm broad
..............................16 Calyx with 10 or fewer veins (or the venation obscure).
....................................19 Plants rhizomatous perennials (biennial in S. csereii); petals white.
......................................20 Fruiting calyx ovoid, contracted at the mouth to ca. ½ the diameter of the calyx at its widest point; stamens ca. 2× as long as the calyx; filaments purple
......................................20 Fruiting calyx clavate or campanulate, not contracted at the mouth; stamens 1.0-1.5× as long as the calyx; filaments usually white.
........................................21 Petal appendages 1.0-1.6 mm long; inflorescences leafy; [native]
........................................21 Petal appendages absent or to 0.2 mm long; inflorescences with reduced leaves resembling bracts; [alien, mostly of disturbed habitats]
....................................19 Plants annuals; petals white, pink, or lavender.
..........................................22 Stems glabrous or sparsely pubescent (if pubescent, puberulent).
............................................23 Calyx 4-10 mm long; carpophore ca. 1 mm long
............................................23 Calyx 13-17 mm long; carpophore 7-8 mm long
..........................................22 Stems densely pubescent (hirsute or glandular-hirsute).
..............................................24 Petals entire or emarginate; fruiting calyx 6-10 mm long
..............................................24 Petals deeply 2-lobed; calyx; fruiting calyx 10-30 mm long.
................................................25 Fruiting calyx 10-15 mm long; petal appendages ca. 0.2 mm long
................................................25 Fruiting calyx (15-) 25-30 mm long; petal appendages 0.5-1.5 mm long