Red Campion

Common Name: Red Campion

Scientific Name: Silene dioica

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Alternative Names:  Adders’ Flower, Bachelor’s buttons, Billy buttons, Bird’s eye, Bob Robin, Brid een, Bull rattle, Bull’s eye, Cancer, Cock Robin, Cuckoo flower, , Devil’s flower, Dolly winter, Drunkards, Fleabites, Gipsy-flower, Gramfer-greygles, Johnny Woods, Mary’s Rose, Morning campion, Mother-dee, Mother-die, Ragged Jack,  Red butcher, Red Jack, Red Riding Hood, Red Robin Hood, Robin flower, Robin Hood, Robin redbreast, Robin-in-the-hedge, Robin’s eye, Robin’s flower, Robroys,  Red Mintchop, Sarah Janes, Scalded Apples, Soldiers’ Buttons, Wake Robin, cuckoo flower.

Range: Throughout British Isles

Habitat: Shady hedgerows and woodlands, normally on basic soil

Key Identification Features: Native perennial sometimes biennial with creeping rhizomes. Up to 80cm tall, hairy with lanceolate leaves in opposite pairs on the stem. Flowers May to November, flowers 20mm across with five rose-pink notched petals. Male and Female flowers grow on separate plants. It can hybridise with White Campion S. latifolia producing plants with pale pink flowers.

Confusion Species: White Campion is similar but with white flowers. Other campions such as Rose Campion Lychnis coronaria and Sticky Catchfly L. viscaria can also look similar.

Edible Uses: None, the high quantities of saponins make this plant none edible.

Medicinal Uses: None listed

Other Uses: Like many of the family including the closely related Soapwort Saponaria officinalis the plant contains significant amounts of saponins particularly in the roots.  In the past they have been boiled in water and the water used to wash delicate linen. There are references to the plant (? the seeds) being used to treat snake bites.

red campion plant

red campion leaf

red campion flower



Phillips, Roger. “Wild Flowers of Britain” (MacMillan, 1994)

Rose, Francis. “The Wild Flower Key” (Frederick Warne, 1981)


Red Campion

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