Silene csereii (Balkan Catchfly)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:biennial, short-lived perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry; fields, along roads, waste areas
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:to 40 inches tall
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Long branching racemes of nodding flowers at the top of the plant and arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers have 5 white petals that are deeply divided into 2 lobes; petals are tightly curled up before spreading out. Long, purple tinged stamens extend out of the throat. The calyx is light green to pinkish, smooth with about 20 faint parallel veins from the base and 5 triangular lobes at the tip. Flowers are about ¾ inch long from the base of the calyx to the tip of the stamens.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] A few basal leaves wither away by flowering time. Stem leaves are up to 4 inches long, 1½ inches wide, toothless, hairless, generally egg-shaped with a pointed tip, no stalk, and clasp the stem. Leaf color is light green to slightly blue-green. Attachment is opposite with pairs at right angles to the pair above and below. Stems are smooth, often with a waxy bloom, and typically unbranched except in the flowers.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a teardrop shaped capsule about as long as the calyx. When ripe, it splits open at the top with the 6 teeth flaring out. Inside are grayish-brown, kidney-shaped seeds.


Distinguishing features of Balkan Catchfly are the smooth calyx, clasping egg-shaped leaves and waxy bloom on the stem. A similar species is Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris), which has narrow leaves, distinct venation on its more inflated calyx, and is a shorter, more heavily branched plant. When not flowering, the leaves may be easily mistaken for Dalmation Toadflax (Linaria dalmatica), a more aggressive invasive species which has alternate leaves, where Balkan Catchfly has opposite leaves.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Chisago, Dakota and Ramsey counties. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Jim - LeSueur County, Lake Washington
on: 2010-06-11 17:50:52

I am positive this is what we have. First year I have noticed this plant on our bluff area of lakeshore.

Posted by: JB - Randall, Morrison County
on: 2010-07-09 15:35:44

We have this plant, first year I've seen it, along our driveway. One good clump and a couple tiny plants also.

Posted by: Karin - Coldwater Springs, Minneapolis
on: 2011-06-20 11:03:28

Found along the crumbling asphalt of the old bureau of mines campus in Minneapolis near Fort Snelling.

Posted by: Mandy - Becker County, Detroit Lakes
on: 2012-07-16 22:58:29

First year I noticed this plant growing along gravel roadsides.

Posted by: Jason - Nicollet County
on: 2013-07-28 22:18:18

North Star WMA

Posted by: Molly - Otter Tail County
on: 2014-07-28 13:29:35

at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, June 2014 and earlier

Posted by: Keith - Pope County South of Sedan, MN
on: 2014-08-11 10:36:45

I photographed this plant/weed growing along a gravel road adjacent to a wetland near Sedan, MN in Pope County. It did remind me of a miniature version of White Campion which grows almost everywhere.

Posted by: Carole Gernes, Ramsey Co. CWMA - Fish Creek Preserve, Maplewood
on: 2014-12-04 14:16:54

This was discovered during the Fish Creek Invasive Plant Blitz May 22, 2014. It was not blooming and a volunteer thought it might be Dalmatian toadflax, a MN Noxious Weed on the eradicate list. The non-flowering plants look similar, however, this plant has opposite leaves. Dalmatian toadflax has alternate leaves. Balkan catchfly is now included in the "Look-alike" section of the MNDOT MN Noxious Weed Booklet.

Posted by: traci - Rural Duluth, Grand Lake Township
on: 2016-06-11 13:15:30

I have never seen this plant before in my over 40 years living and gardening in southern St. Louis County.

Posted by: michael schroeder - Elk River, Sherburne County
on: 2018-06-27 09:59:55

Found a small grouping of 3 with 4 singles in the area (20 sq ft) where a new paved trail was placed last year. I have walked this for years and never saw them in the area before. May be due to the city not mowing the area anymore with the path in place.

Posted by: Njd - Hermantown, S. St. Louis county
on: 2018-07-15 13:23:21

Found in my gravel driveway. Solitary specimen. Knew it was a campion of some kind but couldn't figure it out until using this wonderful guide! Too bad it's an alien because I think it's delicacy & curled petals attractive. Thankfully it doesn't seem to be invasive.

Posted by: Linda Sorem - St. Louis county/Duluth Twsp/Clover Valley
on: 2019-06-30 18:24:27

I was delighted to see this new addition to my yard after having my driveway modified. A tough plant with a delicate bloom.

Posted by: Casey vanderBent - Lake Saint Croix Beach
on: 2020-06-20 17:56:32

I've never seen this before. It showed up on the edge of my wildflower bed, along a suburban street.

Posted by: Lorna Koestner - Eastern Carlton County, Along Gilogly Road
on: 2022-07-02 15:37:58

Quite a bit of this cool-looking Campion in the gravelly shoulder on either side of a small county road that goes through a low-lying marshy area, though this plant is in the roadbed, which was recently rebuilt, so maybe the seeds came in with the gravel.

Posted by: Mary Wedel - Duluth - Lincoln Park
on: 2022-07-05 19:17:53

I'm pretty sure this is what decided to take up residence in my new perennial rock garden. Must have come in with the new dirt. Small grouping coming out of the rocks in one spot. Looks like a dainty bouquet of small nodding white heads on blue greenish leaves

Posted by: Frank - Minnetrista
on: 2024-01-12 12:47:43

I'm reasonably certain (because I always dig it out before it gets going) that rosettes of this glaucous plant continue to be delivered with class 5 limestone we use to resurface the driveway every so often. Every load, there's a few. Loads coming from the Carver Pit, Carver County.

Posted by: Pat W - Pillager Mn
on: 2024-05-06 21:04:46

I've been fighting this noxious pest or the better part of 14 years now. It isn't terribly invasive but it seems to pop up almost anyplace. I hope I can get rid of it once and for all.

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