Ontario Weeds: Night flowering catchfly

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Leaves
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. Related Links

Name: Night-flowering catchfly, Silene noctiflora L.,

Other Names: Sticky cockle, silène noctiflore, silène de nuit, attrape-mouche

Family: Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae)

General Description: Annual or sometimes winter annual, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Night-flowering catchfly.

Night-flowering catchfly. A. Base of annual plant. B. Flowering stem. C. Seedpod with 6 teeth.
Night-flowering catchfly.
A. Base of annual plant. B. Flowering stem. C. Seedpod with 6 teeth.

Stems & Roots: Stems of flowering plants 20cm-1m (8-40in.) high, erect, often much-branched near the top but always single at the ground surface because they start from seed each year, often with remnants of the cotyledons (seed leaves) still visible; and the root tapering downwards as a slender taproot with fine branches;

Leaves: Opposite (2 per node), tapering towards both ends, lower ones widest near the tip, middle and upper ones widest nearer the stem; upper leaves and stem branches densely sticky-hairy;

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers showy, usually opening in the evening but often open throughout the next day as well; sepals light green, united to form a calyx tube with 5 prominent veins lined up with the 5 long-tapered teeth, and 5 less prominent but distinctly branched veins; petals white, creamy-white or pinkish, flaring outwards in a circle 1-3cm (2/5-1¼in.) in diameter, each petal deeply lobed; flowers bisexual, having 10 stamens and 1 pistil, although rarely some may be unisexual; pistil with 3 long styles, becoming an ovoid seedpod which usually opens with 6 teeth and scatters many kidney-shaped, small (0.8-1mm, 1/30-1/25in.), grayish-orange, rough seeds. Flowers from June to August.

Habitat: Night-flowering catchfly grows in much the same situations as White cockle but is more common in cultivated fields and is more widespread through northern Ontario.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its dense covering of sticky hair on upper stems, leaves and calyx, its calyx with long-tapered teeth and 10 distinctly branching lengthwise veins clearly visible as the seedpod expands inside, its seedpod opening by usually 6 teeth, and its annual or winter annual habit. Very similar in general appearance to White cockle; seedlings nearly identical but are somewhat sticky-hairy.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2000
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003