About 300 species, see text.
Silene is a genus of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae. Common names include campion (shared with the related genus Lychnis) and catchfly.
Red Campion (S. dioica) and White Campion (S. latifolia) are common wildflowers throughout Europe and elsewhere. They readily hybridise to produce plants with paler pink flowers. The Moss campion is common in the high Arctic.
Silene species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Silene.
Silene undulata (syn. Silene capensis) is used by the Xhosa tribe in Africa as an oneirogenic agent. Reputedly, a small amount of the root bark of this species is pulverised with water to produce a white froth. This froth is then sucked off and swallowed. The user's dreams for the following several nights are said to be more vivid and memorable than usual, although no effects are felt while awake.
If the related genera Lychnis, Melandrium, and Viscaria are included in Silene, it contains about 700 species. They are found in many areas, mostly in the Northern hemisphere. Pre-2003 divisions of the genus into subgenera or sections do not seem to be well-supported by molecular evidence.
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