The Q&A Archives: Searching for Seeds of Silene/Lynchnis/Viscaria

Question: A few years ago I discovered a versatile and weather-resistant annual called variously silene, lychnis, or viscaria, depending on the source. It is apparently popular in Great Britain, although difficult to find in the US. My original supply of seed came from a British company called "Unwins" that no longer markets in America, and each year I seach for new sources of different varieties of this plant. Can you tell me its correct name? Is it something Burpee could trial? (I think it has great potential as a lovely all-season border annual!) Thank you. Jackie Lorensen Juneau, AL

Answer: Your problem underscores the bigger problem that surrounds the use of common names. What is silene to one is lychnis to another. You'd have to know that the botanical names (genus) of Lychnis and Viscaria are synonymous and that Silene is a different genus altogether....but they share common names! Both Lychnis and Silene are called catchfly or campion. AND both genuses have both annual and perennial plants. So I can't help you find a source because I don't know which plant you are describing.How about describing the plant a bit for me and maybe that will help?

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