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Silene wrightii
(Wright's campion)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Scientific Name: Silene wrightii A. Gray

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Wright's campion

R-E-D Code: 2-1-3

Description: Perennial; stems several from woody, thickened crown and short rootstock, 1-3 dm tall, simple or branched, more or less decumbent at base, densely pubescent and glandular throughout; leaves (2)3-6 cm long, 4-14 mm wide; stem leaves very numerous, the upper lanceolate to elliptic, sessile; lower leaves petioled to subsessile and oblanceolate; flowers few, 1 or 2(3) per node; upper flowers on pedicels 5-30 mm long (longer pedicels often bracteate); lower flowers often at tips of elongate axillary branches bearing 1-5 pairs of slightly reduced leaves; calyx (12)16-20 mm long, tubular, glandular-pilose, teeth acuminate, 4-6 mm long; corolla whitish, claws much exserted, 8-13 mm long, broadened above but without auricles, blades much broadened, 5-8 mm long, sometimes bilobed 1/3-1/2 their length, 2 main lobes each laciniately 3-4-lobed or cleft into pointed appendages; carpophore (stipe below ovary) 3-6 mm long, glabrous or very minutely puberulent; stamens about equal to calyx; styles 3, included; fruit a capsule. Flowers mid July to October.

Similar Species: Silene wrightii is most similar to S. scouleri, a much more common and widespread plant composed of several subspecies and varieties. However, S. wrightii is glandular throughout, has shorter stems, and smaller leaves than S. scouleri, which is glandular in the inflorescence only, has longer stems (2-7 dm), and larger leaves (7-15[25] cm long).

Distribution: New Mexico, Catron, Grant, Luna, Sierra, and Socorro counties.

Habitat: Cliffs and rocky outcrops in Rocky Mountain montane and subalpine conifer forests; about 2,070-2,440 m (6,800-8,000 ft).

Remarks: This plant was once thought to be very rare when the only known collections were those of Wright in 1851 and Metcalfe in 1903. Several additional populations have recently been found in five southwestern New Mexico counties.

Conservation Considerations: Current land uses apparently pose no threat to this species. Its cliff habitat offers considerable protection.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

*Hitchcock, C.L. and B. Maguire. 1947. A revision of the North American species of Silene. University of Washington Publications in Biology 13.

Information Compiled By: David Bleakly, 1999

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Silene wrightiiSilene wrightii...S2

Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council