Botanical Name: Silene regia
Common Name: Royal Catchfly, Prairie Fire
Description: This is a beautiful perennial that is native to only Jackson County in Florida, but is native in other parts of the Southeast.
It blooms crimson-red flowers on 3-4′ flower stalks in late summer through fall. Because of the red color and shape of the flowers, it is a magnet for hummingbirds. Bees and butterflies also get nectar from it. This and the equally gorgeous Cardinal Flower bring a stunning pop of red to the other fall colors of yellow and purple
Royal Catchfly is a perennial forb that grows from a crown atop a deep taproot. As the crown grows in size, there may be several rosettes and shoots, but it does not produce horizontal rhizomes. The leaves are entire and opposite. Royal Catchfly plants may be smooth but more often have a covering of very short hairs; the stems and leaves are usually green, but sometimes the stems develop a purplish tinge. The inflorescence develops at the top of the stem, usually in June. The sepals are green (sometimes covered with sticky glands) and the petals are usually an intense shade of crimson. Sometimes they may be a dull red, very rarely pinkish, or even white. The stigmas and anthers develop at different times, preventing any given flower from self-pollination. The fruit is a capsule, opening at the top. The seeds disperse as the stems holding the capsules are shaken by the wind. Seedlings require an open soil surface for germination and establishment.
Its native habitat is in prairies, savannas, barrens, and open woodlands, usually on well-drained, sandy or rocky soils. It grows best in a part sun or part shade area of your garden. Is drought tolerant.
Although part of a carnivorous family, Royal Catchfly does not gain nutrition from its captives. After getting stuck, the insects inevitably die. This presents another challenge for the plant. It isn’t healthy to have rotting insects stuck all over it. This is where the digestive enzymes come in. They quickly breakdown the insect bodies, keeping them from becoming putrid. It is believed that catching the bugs is a defensive process to prevent them from feeding on the plant.
Low to no tolerance for salt water inundation, wind, or spray.
This plant in 1-gallon containers is 8-15″ tall.
Plant Lore: Genus name means catchfly or campion. Specific epithet means royal or princely.
Florida Hardiness Zones 8 – 9