Scientific Name: Saponaria officinalis (Caryophyllaceae). The specific name 'officinalis' indicates that the plant had a use, often medicinal, but can be culinary or other (in this case the plant can be used like soap).
English Name: Soapwort (Campion family). Also Bouncing Bet; Crow Soap; Wild Sweet William; Soapweed; Boston Pink. The suffix 'wort' (pronounced to rhyme with 'Bert' not 'wart') indicates that the plant has a traditional use, usually medical, but can be culinary or other (in this case, the plant can be used like soap).
French Name: La Saponaire officinale (='medicinal/working suds maker'); also la Savonnaire (='soap maker'), la Savonnière (='soap maker'), la Saponière (='suds maker'), l'Herbe à savon (='soap plant'), l'Herbe à foulon (='fulling plant'), le Savon des fossés (='ditches' soap'), le Savon de fosse (='ditch soap').
5 Key Characters:
- Clusters of pink flowers about 2.5 cm across.
- Occurs in patches which can be some metres across.
- Often found along ditches.
- Flowers scented (more strongly at night).
- A robust erect plant 30 - 90 cm high.
Lookalikes: Dames-violet Hesperis maronalis, which has darker, toothed leaves and violet flowers.
Habitat: Hedgerows, roadsides, waste ground. Dry rich sites and sand.
Flowering Period: July-August-September.
Status: Quite common and conspicuous.
Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:
|Growing around a culvert on the roadside on the outskirts of Preuilly sur Claise.|
|Close up of flowers.|
|The stamens of the flower on the right has been infected with a fungus, turning the pollen dark and compromising its functioning. The infected plant doesn't die though, as it will spread by runners as well.|