The Fire Pink is a herbaceous plant. It is also a perennial and can grow up to sixty five centimeters or twenty six inches tall. The scientific classification for this plant is Silene virginica. It has also been called the Catch Fly. The Fire Pink is a wildflower that is a member of the pink family, Caryophyllaceae. While it is a perennial, this plant only lives for around two to three years. This plant is an excellent choice for growing in rock or wildflower gardens.
There are two varieties of the fire pink that are recognized in the plant world.There is an endemic (unique to the area) subspecies that occurs in West Virginia that is called Silene birginica var. robusta. The majority of the plants in the species are scientifically classified as Silene virginica var. virginica.
The Fire Pink grows well on rocky, deciduous (loses it’s leaves in the fall) slopes or in rich woods .It also grows in meadows or dry open woodlands. It can be found in most of the eastern United States with the exclusion of the extreme northeast areas. It is considered a state endangered species in both Florida and Wisconsin. In Michigan it is a state threatened species.
Most of the leaves of the Fire Pink are basal (growing low to the ground at the base of the plant). Each leaf is entire and the arrangement of the leaf is opposite. The leaves are somewhat lance shaped. The stems of the Fire Pink along with the base of the plant are covered in sticky hairs. They have a very sticky coating. These sticky hairs are also called exudates and they trap and hold insects. The brilliant blooms attract the ruby throated hummingbirds. The hummingbirds in turn are one of the primary pollinators for the Fire Pink.
The blooms of the Fire Pink can grow up to four centimeters or one and a half inches in width and they each have five regular parts. The flowers are a breathtaking scarlet or red in color and they first arrive in the mid spring months and continue to bloom through the late spring months. The petals are notched or pinked on the tips. The petals extend into a long tube. While the fire pink is not particularly large it is a very showy plant because of the flowers vivid colors.
The Fire Pink is pretty rare even though it grows in widespread areas. It can be purchased in plant nurseries either as seeds or plant stock.