Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Ronald L. Hartman (except Silene)

Annual, biennial, perennial herb, rarely dioecious, taprooted or rhizome generally slender
Leaves simple, generally opposite; stipules generally 0; petiole generally 0; blade entire, sheath generally 0
Inflorescence: cyme, generally open; flowers few–many or flower solitary and axillary; involucre generally 0
Flower generally bisexual, radial; hypanthium sometimes present; sepals generally 5, ± free or fused into a tube, tube generally herbaceous between lobes or teeth; awns generally 0; petals generally 5 or 0, generally tapered to base (or with claw long, blade expanded), entire to 2–several-lobed, blade generally without scale-like appendages (inner surface), generally without ear-like lobes at base; stamens generally 10, generally fertile, generally free, generally from ovary base; nectaries generally 0; ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, placentas basal or free-central, styles 2–5 or 1 and 2–3-branched
Fruit: capsule or utricle (rarely modified, dehiscent), generally sessile
Seeds: appendage generally 0
Genera in family: 85 genera, 2400 species: widespread, especially arctic, alpine, temp, n hemisphere; some cultivated (Agrostemma, Arenaria, Cerastium, Dianthus, Gypsophila, Lychnis, Saponaria, Silene, Vaccaria ).



Perennial, erect, rhizomed
Leaf petioled or not; blade oblanceolate to ovate; veins 3
Inflorescence: cyme, terminal or axillary; flowers 20–40+, dense; pedicels generally 0–3 mm
Flower: sepals 5, fused, tube prominent, 15–20 mm, 4–8 mm diam, lanceolate to oblong, rounded, veins 20, obscure, teeth 5, 1.5–5 mm, < tube, triangular, tapered; petals 5, 25–40 mm, claw long, blade entire to ± obcordate, appendages 2; stamens fused with petals to ovary stalk; styles 2, 2–2.5 cm
Fruit: capsule, ± ovoid; stalk 2–3 mm; valves 4, ascending to recurved
Seeds many, purplish to black
Species in genus: 30 species: Eurasia
Etymology: (Latin: soap, because juice lathers with water)


S. officinalis L.

Plant 3–9+ dm, ± glabrous
Stem simple or branched above
Leaf 3–10 cm
Inflorescence: peduncles ascending or erect, bracted
Flower: calyx tube base depressed, indented, lobes unequal, thinly scarious, triangular-acuminate; petals 8–12 mm wide, obovate, pink, appendages 1–2 mm, linear-lanceolate
Seed 1.5–2 mm, ± spheric, notched, ± compressed, tubercled
Chromosomes: 2n=28
Ecology: Roadsides, oak woodlands, streambeds, disturbed areas
Elevation: < 1500 m.
Bioregional distribution: Northwestern California, High Cascade Range, n Sierra Nevada Foothills, San Francisco Bay Area, Outer South Coast Ranges, South Coast, Peninsular Ranges, Great Basin Floristic Province
Distribution outside California: native to s Europe
Flowering time: Jun–Sep

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