Lychnis chalcedonica

From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia


Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese-cross,[1] burning love, dusky salmon, flower of Bristol, Jerusalem cross,nonesuch; syn. Silene chalcedonica) is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to central and eastern Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northwestern China.


Growing Template:Convert tall with unbranched stems, it is an herbaceous perennial. The leaves are produced in opposite pairs, simple broad lanceolate, Template:Convert long and 1-5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 10-50 together; each flower is bright red, 1-3 cm in diameter, with a deeply five-lobed corolla, each lobe being further split into two smaller lobes. This forms a general shape similar to that of the Maltese cross to which it owes one of its common names. The fruit is a dry capsule containing numerous seeds.


The specific epithet chalcedonica refers to the ancient town of Chalcedon in what is now Turkey.[2]

Numerous common names are attached to this plant, including:-

  • Burning love
  • Common rose campion
  • Constantinople campion
  • Dusky salmon
  • Fireball
  • Flower of Bristol[3]
  • Flower of Constantinople      
  • Gardener's delight      
  • Gardener's eye
  • Great candlestick
  • Jerusalem cross
  • Knight's cross
  • Maltese cross
  • Meadow campion
  • Nonesuch
  • Red robin
  • Scarlet lightning
  • Scarlet lychnis
  • Tears of Christ

L. chalcedonica was voted the county flower of Bristol in a 2002 following a poll by the wild flora conservation charity Plantlife.

Cultivation and uses

Lychnis chalcedonica is a popular ornamental plant in gardens. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[4] Numerous cultivars have been selected, varying in flower colour from bright red to orange-red, pink or white. It grows best in partial to full sun and in any good well-drained soil, if provided with a constant moisture supply. The flowering period is extended if faded flowers are removed. It is short-lived in poorly drained soil. Double flowered cultivars are propagated by division.

The species can become naturalised or even invasive if plants are allowed to set seed; it is naturalised in some parts of North America. Thomas Jefferson sowed this plant at Monticello in 1807.



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