E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Silene acaulis (L.) Jacq.
moss campion
Caryophyllaceae (Pink family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #56211)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Silene acaulis
Click here to view our interactive map and legend
Details about map content are available here
Click on the map dots to view record details.

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this species.

Perennial herb from a woody root and a branched stem-base; densely tufted, forming thick cushions to 40 cm wide; stems erect, solitary, simple, glabrous, 3-6 (rarely 15) cm tall.
Basal and stem leaves opposite, linear to lance-linear, unstalked, 5-15 mm long, to 1.5 mm wide, glabrous to fringed at the base or stiffly short-hairy, channelled above, so dense as to obscure the stem; stipules lacking.
Inflorescence of solitary flowers, usually unisexual (the plants either male or female); petals 5, pink to lavender (occasionally white), egg-shaped, 2-cleft, 8-12 mm long, with narrow stalklike bases about twice as long as the blades; sepals 5, green or frequently pinkish to purplish-tinged, united, forming a tube 4-9 mm long, 10-nerved, glabrous.
Capsules subcylindric, 4-10 mm long, 6-valved; seeds light brown to yellowish, kidney-shaped, 0.8-1.2 mm long, weakly pimply.
Two varieties occur in BC:

1. Calyces 4-7 mm tall.................... var. acaulis

1. Calyces 6-11 mm tall..................... var. subacaulescens (F.N. Williams) Fern. & St. John

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows, rock outcrops and fellfields in the alpine zone; common throughout BC, except infrequent on the Queen Charlotte Islands; var. acaulis - circumpolar, N to AK, YT, and NT, E to NF and S to OR, ID, MT and NH, var. subacaulescens - E to AB and S to MT, AZ, NM, NV and OR; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Silene acaulis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 5 1886 3000
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 235
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 214 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(122), BAFA(425), BG(1), BWBS(1), CMA(12), ESSF(134), IDF(3), IMA(86), MH(4), SWB(50)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is alpine tundra & boreal.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References