A native perennial, Lemmon’s catchfly (Silene lemmonii) is a member of the Pink FamilyCaryophyllaceae). It is found in woodlands and forest habitats, often moist, from 3,500 to 8,000 feet in California and Oregon.
Lemmon’s catchfly produces several stems and shoots from a woody, branching caudex (rootstock). The stems can be erect and flowering or decumbent and sterile. The entire plant is hairy with the upper hairs being glandular and sticky, hence the common name “catchfly”.
Most of the leaves are located at the base of the plant. The opposite cauline (stem) leaves are smaller as one goes up the stem.
The inflorescence consists of one to seven flowers on the end of the sticky stalk. The moth-pollinated flowers have a tubular, inflated calyx of fused sepals, open at the tip to reveal five white, yellowish or pinkish petals. The calyx has green ribs. Lemmon’s catchfly petals are each deeply divided into four narrow lobes. Ten long stamens protrude from the mouth of the flower while three even longer styles protrude even further.
The fruits are capsules which contain rusty brown seeds with a grey bloom.
Another common name for S lemmonii is Lemmon’s campion. John Gill Lemmon (1832 – 1908) is honored by the species designation. Lemmon collected plants in the American West and with his wife, Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon, established the Lemmon Herbarium, now a part of UC Berkeley.
These Lemmon’s catchfly plants were growing in June along Modoc National Forest Road 40N11 near Adin CA.