By Suzanne Wodek
Commonly called Wild Pink or Carolina Pink, Silene caroliniana is a native wildflower that resembles wood phlox. The genus is Caryophyllaceae or Pink Family. Five notched, or fringed, flower petals sit atop a tube. This tube provides nectar for native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and nocturnal moths. Another common name is “sticky catchfly” because of hairs on the calyx that are reminiscent of flypaper. This sticky, dry surface functions to deter ants from climbing the flower to steal the nectar, thus the name.
The leaves are narrow-lanced and semi-evergreen. Because they naturalize, they make an excellent groundcover. With a low-growing, mounded habitat and showy blooms, Carolina Pink is ideal for containers, rock gardens, water-wise landscaping and low-maintenance plantings. When planted in full sun to part shade with dry to medium well-drained soil, it will thrive. A single plant can produce 50-100 shocking pink flowers. A word of caution: Once sited, its taproot makes it hard to transplant to another location.
The Botanical Gardens, located at 151 W. T. Weaver Boulevard, is a nonprofit organization housing a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and memberships are encouraged. Check ashevillebotanicalgardens.org for a variety of education programs this month.
Upcoming Events at the Botanical Gardens
Come out on Sunday, April 8, from 9:30–11:30 a.m. for the Annual Spring Wildflower Walk with David Clarke. A professor in the UNCA biology department, Dr. Clark is regarded as one of the premier botanists of South American floras. He discovered dozens of new plant species while exploring for the Smithsonian Institution. Join him for an informative walk through the Gardens—rain or shine.
Spring Tree ID. Join naturalist Ron Lance on Sunday, April 15, from 2–4 p.m. for this two-hour, outdoor study/walk in the Gardens. Lance is land manager at Big Ridge, a 3,000-acre property near Glenville, partly under a conservation easement with the North American Land Trust. He has authored or contributed to 18 publications dealing with native, woody plants of the southeastern US. Participants will observe trees at a most challenging time of year when new growth replaces winter buds. Enjoy the early bloomers and hone other springtime tree identification skills. Rain or shine, so please dress accordingly.
Educational programs are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Participants must pre-register and pre-pay for classes by calling 828.252.5190.