Pinks and Allies

Proliferous Pink Deptford Pink Sweet-William Elegant Baby's-breath

What are they?

This group of plants are all members of the campion family (Caryophyllaceae) and typically have showy flowers with five, notched or serrated petals. The leaves are opposite, usually linear or elongate, and more or less hairless. While some are native, the majority are introduced as garden plants from Europe and occur largely as occasional, short-lived, garden escapes.

Where are they found?

Native species are declining and now rare but where found, they serve as indicators of good-quality, natural grasslands. Introduced species may be found on waste ground, roadsides or grassy places.

Identification

As with other members of the campion family, the precise details of petal colour, notching or serrations and details of the calyx at the back of the flower are useful in identification, as well as the overall arrangement of the flowers - especially whether the flowers are single or in multiple heads.



Sweet-William      Dianthus barbatus

Introduced as a garden plant and occasionally found surviving in the wild as a biennial or short-lived perennial on roadsides and waste ground. Flowers June to August. Flowers typically those of a Dianthus, in having ragged petal edges and speckling on the petals, but differs in having the flowers carried in showy clusters. Many different colour forms in any shade of red, pink or white, with or without spots, are now available but the overall clustered appearance remains the same. Leaves broad with well-marked veins.

Sweet-William Sweet-William Sweet-William Sweet-William
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaf
Sweet-William Sweet-William
Flower
Flower


Carthusian Pink      Dianthus carthusianorum

A rare garden escape, currently known from a grassy roadside bank in northeast Norfolk. Flowers June to August. Bright pink flowers carried on slender, blue-green stems with narrow leaves, up to 60cm high.

Carthusian Pink Carthusian Pink Carthusian Pink Carthusian Pink
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Flower
Flower
Leaves


Maiden Pink      Dianthus deltoides

A rare native, now confined to a handful of sites in Breckland, but occasionally appearing as a short-lived garden escape elsewhere. Flowers June to September. Brilliant pink flowers on slender, trailing stems that creep through surrounding vegetation.

Maiden Pink Maiden Pink Maiden Pink Maiden Pink
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaves


Deptford Pink      Dianthus armeria

Once native in the region, this species appears to have been lost during the 1950s and 1960s but occasionally appears as a short-lived garden escape in grassy places. Flowers June to September. Flowers relatively small for a pink and carried in tight clusters, with one or two opening at a time.

Deptford Pink Deptford Pink Deptford Pink Deptford Pink
Habit
Flowers
Leaves
Seed heads


Proliferous Pink      Petrorhagia prolifera

A plant of confused origin, considered native by some, but thought of as a rare garden escape by others. Long known in the Cranwich/Mundford area in Breckland. Flowers July to August. A small plant, usually less than 30cm high. Flowers emerge from beneath papery bracts that enclose a number of buds, each opening one at a time in turn. As the season progresses, the head grows in size as seed capsules form.

Proliferous Pink Proliferous Pink Proliferous Pink Proliferous Pink
Flower
Flower
Older flowerhead
Leaves


Cowherb      Vaccaria hispanica

Introduced. Formerly grown as a garden annual but now more likely to be found as an occasional casual from bird seed. Flowers July to August. A small plant, usually less than 30cm high. The strongly five-ribbed calyx is distinctive.

Cowherb Cowherb Cowherb Cowherb
Flower
Flower
Leaf
Fruiting calyx


Elegant Baby's-breath      Gypsophila elegans

(Annual Baby's-breath) Introduced. Grown as a garden plant in mixed annual seeds and noted at Hitcham, Suffolk in 1990. Flowers July to September. A rather sprawling plant with the bright, white flowers carried in a widely forking, open flowerhead.

Elegant Baby's-breath Elegant Baby's-breath Elegant Baby's-breath Elegant Baby's-breath
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Flower
Flowers
Leaf