Bladder Campion, Silene vulgaris

Life Cycle



Reproducing by seed, by rooting of short underground branches which slant outwards from the crown, and from pieces of crown cut off by implements.


Stems are 30 - 60 cm high, erect or spreading, smooth, light green to whitish with a waxy bloom (fine powdery coating)and usually swollen at the nodes.


Leaves are opposite (2 per node), narrowly oval, tapered, deep green or whitish with a waxy bloom, the margins without teeth but occasionally wavy or curled and appearing toothed (Fig 3).

Flowers and Fruit

Flowers in branching clusters (Fig 2). The sepals are united and forming a bladder-like calyx (a) that is light green, or pinkish with darker green or purplish veins and 5 very short teeth at the end. There are five white to pinkish petals, deeply lobed, about 1.5 cm across when open, soon curling up and shriveling after pollination. The seedpods are nearly spherical, about 6 mm long, enclosed by the loose, papery, bladder-like calyx. The seeds are grayish, kidney-shaped, 1.5 mm across, rough with tiny warty bumps. Flowers from mid-June to September.

Roots and Underground Structures

The root system (Fig 4) is a coarse, whitish taproot with numerous, deeply penetrating and widely spreading wiry branches, very persistent (tolerant of cultivation).


Bladder campion occurs throughout Ontario in medium to coarse soils in well-drained locations. It is common in pastures, waste places, roadsides, open woods, gardens, lawns and hedges, but is rather uncommon in regularly cultivated fields.

Distinguishing Features

It is easily distinguished by its smooth, hairless, waxy texture throughout, and the smooth, papery, bladder-like calyx enclosing the small seedpod.

Figure #1.

Bladder campion. A. Plant. B. Flower.

Figure #2.


Figure #3.

Leaves of Bladder campion.

Figure #4.

Full plant

Figure #5.

Bladder campion growing on roadside in central Ontario in early July.