Catchfly (Silene succulenta)

Catchfly in flower
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Catchfly fact file

Catchfly description

GenusSilene (1)

This catchfly is a fleshy perennial with numerous ascending stems, clothed throughout with a dense mass of sticky, glandular hairs (2). On the top of the stems appear large, solitary or paired (rarely three or more) white scented flowers (2) (3). Those plants found on the islands of Corsica and Sardinia have smaller leaves than those in Crete, and have been classified as the subspecies Silene succulenta corsica (2).


Catchfly biology

This catchfly is a night-flowering species (3). The chemical compounds of the plant’s scent have been analysed and found to be similar to those of moth pollinated plants, implying that moths are the likely pollinator (3). Very little else has been documented concerning the biology of this species, but plants of the Caryophyllaceae family are known to usually have flowers with both male and female reproductive organs (5). The fruit of this family is most frequently a capsule, or alternatively a small, dry, single-seeded fruit (5).


Catchfly range

Found on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica (France), Sardinia (Italy) and Crete (Greece) (2).


Catchfly habitat

Found around Mediterranean strand vegetation, sands and sandy soils (4), along the sea shore (2).


Catchfly status

Classified as Rare on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plant Species 1997 (1). The subspecies Silene succulenta corsica is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plant Species 1997 (1).


Catchfly threats

The precise threats facing this plant are unknown, but its coastal environment has certainly been impacted and degraded in recent decades by the growing tourism industry, associated tourism developments, urbanisation, and introduction of exotic plants (6).


Catchfly conservation

There are currently no conservation measures in place that target this species.


Find out more

Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A. & Valentine, D.H. (1993) Flora Europaea: Lycopodiaceae to Platanaceae Vol 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.



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Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.


  1. Walter, K.S. and Gillett, H.J. (1998) 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. IUCN (The World Conservation Union), Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  2. Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A. and Valentine, D.H. (1993) Flora Europaea: Lycopodiaceae to Platanaceae Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Jurgens, A., Witt, T. and Gottsberger, G. (2002) Flower scent composition in night-flowering Silene species (Caryophyllaceae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 30(5): 383 - 397.
  4. The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens (April, 2006)
  5. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Tzatzanis, M., Wrbka, T. and Sauberer, N. (2003) Landscape and vegetation responses to human impact in sandy coasts of Western Crete, Greece. Journal for Nature Conservation, 11(3): 187 - 195.

Image credit

Catchfly in flower  
Catchfly in flower

© Andrew N. Gagg

Andrew N. Gagg
'Town House Two'
Fordbank Court
Henwick Road
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 190 574 8515


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