Variation on a theme

Genetic, not musical!

I was struck by a particularly distinctive plant of red campion (Silene dioica) growing in the hedge (as seen above), which was a bit reminiscent of the flowers of ragged robin, another member of the Caryophyllaceae tribe.

I noticed a long time ago that the plant is very variable, in the shade of pink or red, the colour of the calyx, and the size and form of the flower, so I collected a few flowers from a 200m stretch of our hedgerow. This was well away from any arable fields where herbicide drift might have caused malformations, by the way.

Red campion flowers

One surprise – one plant I found had black pollen rather than pale yellow (bottom left in the photo above) – I’ve never seen this before.

So, if you needed it, a fairly heavy hint that Darwin was right!

Talking of this family of flowers, how soon the stitchwort (Stellaria holostea) has finished – another hedgerow plant but with starry white flowers and dainty stems. The amazing bounty of May soon fades as June arrives. We still have elder flowers in profusion, but the may blossom is long gone.

Backlit stitchwort