Silene virginica

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Fire pink

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Silene
S. virginica
Binomial name
Silene virginica

Silene virginica, the fire pink,[2] is a wildflower in the pink family, Caryophyllaceae. It is known for its distinct brilliant red flowers. Fire pink begins blooming in late spring and continuing throughout the summer. It is sometimes grown in wildflower, shade, and rock gardens.[3]


S. virginica is a small, (20–80 cm (8–31 in) tall, short-lived perennial (2–3 years), with lance shaped leaves. Its stems, and the bases of the flowers, are covered in short sticky hairs. Each flower is approximately five centimeters in diameter and composed of five notched, brilliant red petals which extend into a long tube.[4]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Fire pink grows in open woods and rocky deciduous slopes in central and eastern North America, from Texas to the west, Florida to the south, New York to the east, and ranging as far north as extreme southern Ontario.[2] It is protected as a state endangered species in Wisconsin,[5] Florida,[6] and Michigan.[7] It is imperiled in Louisiana.[8]


Fire pink's principal pollinator is the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), which is attracted by the flowers' bright red petals and sugary nectar.[9]


There are two recognized varieties of fire pink.[2] Most plants of this species are classified as Silene virginica var. virginica, however an endemic variety occurs in West Virginia called Silene virginica var. robusta.


  1. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0".
  2. ^ a b c USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Silene virginica". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  3. ^ Missouri Botanical Garden Center for Home Gardening: Silene virginica
  4. ^ Flora of North America: Silene virginica
  5. ^ "Fire Pink (Silene virginica) - Wisconsin DNR".
  6. ^ "Silene virginica - Species Details". Atlas of Florida Plants.
  7. ^ "Michigan's Rare Plants - Michigan Natural Features Inventory".
  8. ^ "Rare Species and Natural Communities by Parish | Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries".
  9. ^ Fenster et al. 2006. Nectar reward and advertisement in hummingbird-pollinated Silene virginica (Caryophyllaceae). American Journal of Botany. 2006;93:1800-1807.