Silene campanula Pers.
AppearanceHerbaceous plant, forming dense, low flattened or hemispherical pads, with hypogeal woody stems, no or almost no epigeal stems. Height 1 to 5 cm, pad Ø 10 to 30 cm and more.
The leaves, on very short stems, are opposite, sessile, linear with acute apex, cartilaginous margin, often ciliate, glabrous. The flowers are solitary at the apex of very short stems, unisexual or hermaphrodite on different plants; the tubular calyx with fused sepals, violaceous, glabrous, with 10 nerves and obtuse teeth, the corolla is composed of 5 spatulate free petals, slightly bilobed, pink, rarely white; 10 stamens, 3 styles, gynoecium superior tricarpellar syncarpic.
The fruits are trilocular capsules, oval, 5-10 mm, dehiscent at the apex with 6 curved teeth; short carpophore; seeds 0,7-0,8 x 0,8-1,1 mm, with reticulated surface, reniform, pale brown.
HabitatPastures and damp rocks on limestone between 800 and 2200 m.
DistributionEndemic to the Ligurian and Maritime Alps.
EtymologyThe name of the genus seems to come from the Greek sialon, "saliva", most probably refers to the stickiness of some plants belonging to this genus and to the fact that they often have the stem covered by secretions similar to saliva; this term is, however, also related to the mythological figure of Silenus companion of Bacchus, perennially drunk and with swollen belly, just like the calyx of these flowers. The name of the species comes from the bell-shaped shape of the calyx.
Endemism: endemic species are animals or plants that live exclusively in a given territory. When this is very limited, we speak of " restricted" endemism. "Endemic" is not necessarily synonymous with "rare": rare species may have few individuals distributed over large areas, an endemic species can also be abundant in a given area, but be limited to that single territory.