Silene antirrhina (Sleepy Catchfly)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; rock outcrops, jack pine forest, prairies, along railroads, roadsides
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:6 to 20 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 flowers] Loose, branching cluster of a few to many stalked flowers at the top of the stem and arising from the upper leaf axils. Flowers are usually white, sometimes pink, less than ¼ inch across with 5 spreading petals each deeply divided into 2 rounded lobes. Flowers open on sunny days.

[photo of red tinged petals and calyx] The calyx is up to 1/3 inch long, initially narrowly oval-elliptic becoming inflated and more bell-shaped in fruit. At the tip are 5 triangular lobes that are frequently tinged dark reddish purple; the outer surface is sticky and has 10 parallel ribs. The underside of the petals may also be reddish purple. Sometimes petals are absent altogether, or very short and hidden inside the calyx tube. The calyx and flowering stalks are hairless except for fine hairs around the edges of the calyx lobes.

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

[photo of upper stem leaves] Leaves are stalkless, 1 to 2 inches long and may be rough textured to minutely hairy with fine hairs around the leaf edges. Basal and lower stem leaves are generally spatula-shaped. Stem leaves are opposite, toothless, becoming more linear-oblong as they ascend the stem and reduced to bracts in the flower clusters.

[photo of stems] Stems are slender, erect, unbranched or few branched, hairless to minutely hairy and typically with dark reddish, sticky patches between the leaf nodes that catch debris and unwary insects.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] As the calyx dries, the 10 ribs on the outer surface become more pronounced. Inside is an oval capsule containing tiny dark gray to black seeds.


Sleepy Catchfly is a rather variable species, apparently greatly affected by environmental conditions such as moisture, sunlight and nutrients. Flower color, whether petals are absent, size and shape of leaves, whether sticky patches are present on stems, and whether plants are spindly with just one to a few flowers or robust with many flowers are all variable.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Chippewa, Pope and Renville counties, and in his backyard garden.


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

Posted by: kate - cook county, gunflint trail, w. bearskin lake
on: 2015-08-22 13:16:51

caught my eye as being different from bladder campion. habitat: side of a fairly open trail on ridge above w. bearskin lake.

Posted by: jennifer - park point, duluth, mn
on: 2019-06-18 21:42:37

This grows beautifully in my native pollinator gardens. just popped up on its on and it seeds itself throughout for the next year. i enjoy the whimsy of this wildflower in my garden.

Posted by: Brett W - Sherburne county
on: 2024-06-05 18:56:40

First time seeing this pop up in the SNA here. Maybe a half a dozen plants, pretty wet this spring.

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