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Pink Pirouette

Silene colorata  Poiret  (Fam: CARYOPHYLLACEAE.)

Published date of profile: Mar-2003.
Citation: Mifsud S., (Mar-2003) Silene colorata on MaltaWildPlants.com

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Nomenclature Morphology
Plant Description and Characters Plant Information and Uses
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Nomenclature

Species name :

Silene colorata  Poiret

Name Derivation :

Jean Louis Marie Poiret, France, 1755-1834

Synonyms :

Basionym or principal synonyms: No Main Synonyms
Full list of synonyms: [ PlantList ]   [ IPNI ]   [ Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Caryophyllaceae  Juss.
(Pink (Carnation) Family)

Common name(s) :

Pink Pirouette, Dwarf Pink Star, Mediterranean Catchfly

Maltese name(s) :

Ilsien l-għasfur, Sieq iz-Zakak

Status for Malta :

Indigenous. Originating from the Maltese islands

Name Derivation:

Silene = probably from the Greek "sialon" (=saliva) referring to the gummy exudation on the stems. Another derivation could come from the name Silenus, the intoxicated foster-father of Bacchus (god of wine) who was covered with foam, much like the glandular secretions of many species of this Genus (Latin);
colorata = colourful, referring either to the bright pink-purple colour of the petals or the colourful calyx (maroon-striped) (Latin).

Remarks :

-


Morphology and structure

PLANT STRUCTURE:

Character

Growth Form

Branching

Surface

Description

Ascending :

Climbing up; lower part of stem is lying on the ground but the upper part of stem rises upwards.

Basal Branching :

Branches are mostly present at the basal part of the stem.

Sericeous :

Bearing fine, usually straight, appressed, hairs giving the appearance of a silky texture.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

LEAVES:

Character

Arrangement

Attachment

Venation

Description

Opposite & Decussate :

Opposite pairs alternating at right angles to the next pair above or below.

Stalked / Petiolate :

Hanging out by a slender leaf-stalk.

None :

No prominent venation visible.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)
 

Character

Leaf Shape

Leaf Margin

Remarks

Description

Spatulate :

Spoon shaped, having a broad rounded apex and a narrow base but not very thin.

Entire :

Smooth margin without indentations, lobes or any projections.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

FLOWERS:

Character

Colour

Basic Flower Type

No. of Petals

No. of Sepals

Description

Pink-Purple

Salverform :

A flower starting with a long, thin tube made usually but not always of fused petals that widens suddenly into a flat-faced flower with petals becoming separated.

5

5

Fused as one single vase-like structure.

General
Picture

  Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)
 

Character

Inflorescence

Description

Ovary

Stamens

Description

Raceme :

Simple, elongated, indeterminate cluster with stalked flowers.

Five purple-pink petals which have a deep indentation making the petal have 2 distinct lobes. Each petal has an adjoined anther which matures before the 3 central stigma. At the center of the flower there is a white crown-shaped structure (part of the petals) from which the stamens and styles project out.

Superior :

Ovary situated above the flower parts (the calyx, corolla, and androecium). In other words, these are attached below the ovary.

#, Obdiplostemonous (alternisepalous) :

Ovary situated above the flower parts (the calyx, corolla, and androecium). In other words, these are attached below the ovary.

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)
 

Character

Scent

Average Flower Size

Pollen Colour

Other Notes

Description

None

24mm

White

-


SEEDS:

Character

No. Per Fruit

Shape

Size

Colour

Description

About 60 per capsule

Reniform

Kidney shape with a serrated jagged outline and prominent groove, making the seeds to be described as being winged.

2mm

Dark Brown

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

FRUIT AND OTHER BOTANICAL DATA:

Character

Fruit Type

Colour of Fruit

Subterranean Parts

Other Notes

Description

Dehiscent Circumscissile Capsule :

A fruit capsule (often round-shaped) that splits open along its circumference when the seeds are ripe.

Brown when ripe.

(The ovary is completely covered by the vase-like calyx).

Taproot :

A rooting system where there is the main descending root of a plant having a single dominant large structure from which a network of smaller and long roots emerge.

-

General
Picture

Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010) Wild Plants of the Mediterranean Islands of Malta  - Copyright Stephen Mifsud / Maltawildplants.com / Malta (2002-2010)

Plant description and characters

Life Cycle:

Annual.

Growth Form:

THEROPHYTE (Annuals)

Habitat:

Rocky waysides, uncultivated fields, soily garigues, traffic islands.

Frequency:

Very Common

Localities in Malta:

Very Common throughout Malta and Gozo. Few examples include Mistra, Mellieha, Ghajn Tuffieha, Siggiewi, Rabat and Mtarfa.

Plant Height:

Ascending up to 50cm.

Flowering Period:

Jan-May

Protection in Malta:

Not Protected by Law (LN200/2011 or LN311/2006)

Red List 1989:

Not listed in the Flora section of the National Red Data Book (Lanfranco, 1989)

Poison:

Not known.

An attractive low plant mainly because of its bright pink/purple flowers which contrasts well with the green background. Plant is an ascending annual and will not grow more than half a meter long. The stem is green and have very fine silky hairs. Branching is simple and occurs at the base of the stem and this is accompanied by an opposite pair of leaves at the branching point.

Leaves are small and not very prominent. They are spoon shaped (lower ones) or rounded lanceolate (upper ones) of not more than 3cm length. The leaves also feel silky when rubbed due its fine hairs. Leaves grow in opposite pairs along the stem and pairs are usually at right angles to the adjecent ones above or below (decussate arrangement).

Apart the flower corolla, one of the most prominent parts of the plant is the calyx. It has a vase like structure, being pale green in colour, with ten contrasting dark purple/wine longitudinal striping ribs. The calyx is made up of 5 fused sepals. Several flowers are borne along the flowering stem.

The flower is made up of 5 petals, each being bi-lobed, giving the observer a false impression that there are 10 slim petals. Joined with every petal are 2 stamens of different filament length. At the center of the flower there is a short, white, 10-tooth, crown-like structure formed by 2 dented structures from each petal. From this crown projects out the 5 stamens, and the 3 central styles with a stigma each.

When the flower dies off, the calyx persists where the capsule-shaped fruit develops inside. It produces many small brown seeds, which roughly have a kidney shaped, a rough seed coat and a deep groove.


Information, uses and other details


Personal Observations

Species name
There was a large difficulty to identify the exact species name of this plant. 2 botanical names which describes this Silene present on the Maltese islands were found. These were:
a)   Silene colorata
b)   Silene sericea.

It could be either that both names apply to the same plant (synonyms) or the names apply to two different species they are very close related. Both possibilities were studied and the name Silene colorata should be used for the reasons described below. [SM]

The book Wild flowers of the Mediterranean [273], the author David Burnie describes the plant S. sericea to have single flowers, or rarely up to 2-3 flower clusters. It is assumed that he meant single or 2-3 flowers per flowering stem. The species in Malta forms several flowers along the stem. In addition, David Burnie mentions that a "related species, the Silene colorata found in the E. Mediterranean, is similar but has flowers borne in clusters."

Additionally, a lecturer of botany in Malta, Mr. Edwin Lanfranco, said that S. sericea and S. colorata are closely-related species that are still diverging from each other genetically (hence, probably a rather young genus). He also stated that the only really reliable feature that can distinguish between S. colorata and S. sericea are the seeds. The seeds of S. sericea have a less pronounced groove and lack wings wheras those of S. colorata are winged [EL]. Unfortunately I don't have seeds or photos of the seeds of the S. sericea for comparison but the seeds of the species in Malta has a well defined groove.   .[SM]

More confusion about the nomenclature
On some local botanical/environmental books, including internet sites, this plant is given the English name "red campion". (Example this page from a Maltese site www.my-malta.com). The fact is that this species does not yet have an official vernicular (english) word. [WWW-14] The Latin name for the "red campion" is NOT S. colorata but it is Silene dioica [WWW-14], [272], [WWW-02].


Not much information has been found about this particular plant species. If you can supply further info to be included in this profile, please do not hesitate to email us. Alternatively, input the new info you can supply at the form found at the botom of this page. Full reference credits will be given accordingly. Thank you for your support!

Photo Gallery   (39 Images)

IMAGE: SILSC-01
Photo of the conspicuous purple-pink flower.
IMAGE: SILSC-02
Photo of lateral view of flower showing the modified ribbed calyx.
IMAGE: SILSC-03
Another lateral view photo of flower showing the calyx. It is a fused tubular structure with longitudinal maroon ribs.
IMAGE: SILSC-04
Close up view of central part of flower showing the white flaps (10 in number) at the mouth and the 3 white stigma protruding out.
IMAGE: SILSC-05
Close up photo of the flower consisting of 5 petals wich fork into 2 lobes, making appear as if the flowers is made up of 10 slim petals.
IMAGE: SILSC-06
Photo of a mature flower showing the 3 long and feathery white stigma.
IMAGE: SILSC-07
Photo of flower (side view) showing the conspicuous vase-like calyx with longitudinal purple/maroon ribs. Also visible are the three feathery stigma.
IMAGE: SILSC-08
Close up photo of flower showing some mature stamens. The anthers drop soon after they are fully mature and shed their pollen.
IMAGE: SILSC-09
Close up photo of flower having stamens with white pollen.
IMAGE: SILSC-10
Another Close up photo of the ventral side of the flower.
IMAGE: SILSC-11
Photo of a young flower showing the stamens (and stigma in between) protruding out from the central opening of the corolla, decorated by 10 white, triangular flaps forming a small crown.
IMAGE: SILSC-12
Photo of flower (back view) showing in detail the striped calyx.
IMAGE: SILSC-13
Side-view photo of flowers showing the petals being slightly curved in.
IMAGE: SILSC-14
Close up photo of central part of flower (side view), showing in detail the white crown-like structure and 3 of the stamens which produce cream/white pollen. The old flower at the right possess the 3 long, curved and feathery stigma.
IMAGE: SILSC-15
Scanned image of the purple stamens and styles (petals removed). There are 10 stamens per flower of unequal length and maturity. (2 stamens missing in the photo).
IMAGE: SILSC-16
Scanned and annotated image of one petal and its adjoined stamens (2 per petal).
IMAGE: SILSC-17
Scanned image of the flower.
IMAGE: SILSC-18
Scanned image of flower against a dark background.
IMAGE: SILSC-19
Scanned image of 3 flowers at different maturity stages. Stamens are first to develop in young flowers, which eventually their anthers fall off, leaving only the 3 white styles which develop later and seen in older flowers.
IMAGE: SILSC-20
Scanned image of dissected petals showing details from every plane of view. Note the adjoined stamens and the 2 white teeth forming the crown.
IMAGE: SILSC-21
Scanned image of a longitudinal section of a young flower showing reproductive organs of the plant and their arrangement.
IMAGE: SILSC-22
Scanned image of a longitudinal section of a mature flower showing reproductive organs and their arrangement.
IMAGE: SILSC-23
Scanned image of the calyx (bud) which have a vase-shaped structure with 10 longitudinal purple ribs. The fruit and the buds are quite similar in structure.
IMAGE: SILSC-24
Scanned image of the flowering part of the flower including a flower and 2 calices.
IMAGE: SILSC-25
Photo of plant neae the coast. Such specimens tend to have thicker/fleshy leaves.
IMAGE: SILSC-26
Photo of the plant in situ producing several eye-catching purple flowers.
IMAGE: SILSC-27
Photo of the plant in situ. It is a low ascending plant reaching a maximum height of about 50cm.
IMAGE: SILSC-28
Scanned image of plant showing various characteristics as annotated on the image itself.
IMAGE: SILSC-29
Scanned image of 2 young (left side) and 2 adult leaves. They are simple spatulate leaves with an entire smooth margin.
IMAGE: SILSC-30
Photo of the colourful vase shaped fruit in situ. One of the fruit is ripe and has a light brown colour. It forms an opening at the top from which the brown seeds inside escape the fruit with swaying of the stem by wind.
IMAGE: SILSC-31
Photo of a ripe fruit being a capsule with crown shaped mouth. Visible are the numerous brown seeds inside.
IMAGE: SILSC-32
Scanned image of fruit (side view).
IMAGE: SILSC-33
Scanned image of seed capsule, clearly showing that it is divided into 3 compartments.
IMAGE: SILSC-34
Magnified scanned image of seeds. They are dark-brown, kidney shaped seeds with the outer curved part having a rough texture with several stiff projections. They also have a well developed longitudinal groove.
IMAGE: SILSC-35
Magnified image of seeds under light microscope, showing their kidney-shaped structure.
IMAGE: SILSC-36
Magnified image of seeds under light microscope, with one of the seeds placed upright to show the deep longitudinal groove.
 
IMAGE: SILSC-37
Photo of several flowers taken at Dingli (Hal-Tartarni Street) on Mar 2005. The fern-like leaves are not those of the Silene.
IMAGE: SILSC-38
Group of closely packed flowers taken at a traffic island in Mtarfa (Ghajn Qajjet Street) on Mar 2003.
IMAGE: SILSC-39
Photo of many flowers, very common in Malta in Feb-Apr.
IMAGE: SILSC-40

Links & Further info

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EoL

IPNI

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NYBG

Vienna Virt. Hb.

RBGE

KEW

MNHN

Arkive


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