Lychnis chalcedonica (Burning Love, Dusky Salmon, Flower of Bristol, Jerusalem Cross, Maltese Cross, Nonesuch; syn. Silene chalcedonica) is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to central and eastern Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northwestern China.
Growing 35–100 cm (14–39 in) tall with unbranched stems, it is an herbaceous perennial. The leaves are produced in opposite pairs, simple broad lanceolate, 2–12 cm (1–5 in) long and 1-5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 10-50 together; each flower is bright red, 1-3 cm in diameter, with a deeply five-lobed corolla, each lobe being further split into two smaller lobes. This forms a general shape similar to that of the Maltese cross to which it owes one of its common names. The fruit is a dry capsule containing numerous seeds.
Numerous common names are attached to this plant, including:-
Cultivation and uses
Lychnis chalcedonica is a popular ornamental plant in gardens. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. Numerous cultivars have been selected, varying in flower colour from bright red to orange-red, pink or white. It grows best in partial to full sun and in any good well-drained soil, if provided with a constant moisture supply. The flowering period is extended if faded flowers are removed. It is short-lived in poorly drained soil. Double flowered cultivars are propagated by division.
The species can become naturalised or even invasive if plants are allowed to set seed; it is naturalised in some parts of North America. Thomas Jefferson is known to have sowed this plant at Monticello in 1807.
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