White Cockle (Silene latifolia ssp. alba)

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A biennial or short-lived perennial, with branched roots and stems. Grows to 1 m in height. Stems have hairs on lower section that become glandular near flower. Leaves egg-shaped, lower leaves up to 10 cm long, reducing in size upward. Stem leaves opposite. Inflorescence of unisexual (the plants either male or female) flowers, rather showy, evening blooming and scented, several to many in open, spreading, leafy-bracted clusters. Petals 5, white, tips wide, deeply notched into 2 lobes, 2 appendages above each petal in center of flower dividing into 2 lobes Sepals 5, united, forming a downy, sticky tube 15-20 mm. The calyx of the male flower has 10 veins, and the female’s 20 veins are longer, and inflate with ripening. Capsules egg-shaped, to 20 mm long, with 10 teeth; seeds about 1.5 mm long, dark bluish-brown, prominently warty-pimply in concentric rows.

Key Identifiers
  • Flowers white with 5 lobed/notched petals
  • Leaves are opposite and hairy
  • Flowers open at night and have a pleasant odor
  • Stems are hairy and may become almost woody when mature
  • Has a tap root and lateral roots
Location in Canada
White Cockle is reported in every southern Canadian province, from BC to Newfoundland.

Alberta Invasive Plants Council
E-Flora BC:Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia

Similar species
Bladder Campion(Silene cucubalus) has similar flower appearance but is not hairy or sticky. Seed capsules will only have 6 teeth. Caylx has netted veins.

Night-Flowering Catchfly (Silene noctiflora) has similar flower appearance but is hairy and sticky. Seed capsules will only have 6 teeth. Caylx has branched veins.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Chris Neeser.
This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on March 29, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 21, 2018.