After the main show of Bluebells and Ramsons, the woods and hedgerows settle down a bit and during late Spring and summer, no one plant really dominates. In the hedgerows the Cow Parsley and the Red Campion are the most obvious wild flowers. Red Campion will continue to flower right through the summer and well into the Autumn.
Red Campion is more of a hedgerow flower and is not found in the deep shade of a woodland. However a woodland glade which is after all environmentally much the same as a hedgerow is a place where you will often find them.
They can grow quite tall, up to 1M is possible in a good position. The leaves and stem are quite hairy giving the foliage a greyish green appearance. The flowers are not red they are pink and it has separate male and female flowers, which are borne on different plants, thus its scientific name dioica as in dioecious, which means ‘having the male and female reproductive organs in separate individuals’ .
There is also a White Campion called Silene latifolia but this is much more a plant of open fields and waste places, ie not shade tolerant. It is also dioecious and will sometimes hybridise with Red Campion.
The flowers produce a capsule full of seeds and dispersal is by what is known as the ‘pepper pot mechanism’. Which is where the relatively heavy seed pod held up on a thin stalk is shaken about in the wind and the seeds are flung out. The same as poppies. Of course they will not be dispersed more than a meter or so and this will result in clumps or patches of plants developing. The plant is a biennial, flowering in its second year. However it will linger on for several years, so in some ways you could say it is a perennial. The photo to the right was taken by the gate at the entrance to our patch of Ninewells wood, which makes for a welcoming splash of colour. A similar plant is Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi which grows mainly in damp grassland, however I do have one individual growing in my wood and it is quite close to the Red Campion growing by the gate, so not in grassland but it is in a damp area.
To check out other wildflowers found in the woods of the Wye valley and Ninewells wood click Woodland Wildflowers of the Wye valley and Monmouthshire.