Silene vulgaris (Bladder Campion)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:short-lived perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; sandy or gravelly disturbed soil; agricultural fields, roadsides, gravel pits, waste areas
Bloom season:June - October
Plant height:8 to 30 inches
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: panicle

[photo of flower] Branching clusters of stalked flowers at the tips of branching stems and arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are about ¾ inch across and about 1 inch long, with 5 spreading white petals each deeply divided into 2 rounded lobes. Long white stamens with dark tips and 3 pale styles extend out of the throat. The calyx is light green to pinkish, smooth with distinct venation, has 5 small triangular lobes at the tip, and is typically inflated like a balloon, oval to nearly round.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are ¾ to 3 inches long, up to 1¼ inch wide, narrowly lance-oblong or may be widest above the middle, toothless, hairless to sparsely hairy, pointed at the tip, rounded at the base, stalkless and nearly clasping. Stems are branched near the base, light green and smooth with a waxy bloom.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is a teardrop shaped capsule about as long as the calyx. When ripe it splits open at the top, the 6 teeth flaring out. Inside are round to kidney-shaped seeds, black or nearly so.


Bladder Campion is a less common weed than the similar Balkan Catchfly (Silene csereii), which also has a smooth calyx but has proportionately broader, more egg-shaped leaves, a less inflated calyx with obscure venation, is more erect and not typically branched except in the flower clusters. There are 5 subspecies of Silene vulgaris in its native Europe but apparently subsp. vulgaris is the primary species in North America.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken along a roadside in northwest Hubbard County.


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

Posted by: Rick K - Lake Itasca State Park, along trail at the headwaters
on: 2017-08-23 15:21:02

I photographed the flowers of bladder campion on August 14, 2017. They were among native wildflowers including golden rods and Joe-pye weed.

Posted by: Nathan Bork - PAYNESVILLE
on: 2018-07-16 20:27:57

Lots and lots of it. Seemingly invasive. Growing hardily on the edge of a gravel parking lot between my property and neighbor's. I mow it over... Doesn't let much else grow near it (shades it out).

Posted by: LeAnn Plinske - Baxter
on: 2020-07-22 19:07:14

A friend found this blooming this week in St. Mathias Park, south of Brainerd in Crow Wing County. Should this plant be removed from their prairie?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-07-23 05:51:43

LeAnn, it is a non-native species that does not add any value to a prairie, so I would say remove it.

Posted by: Jerold Ibberson - Steele County
on: 2022-06-06 08:49:41

We have lots of it in our hedge and spreading. I don't think we ever planted it.

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