Despite its species name 'vulgaris', Bladder Campion is not the most common member of its genus in Britain, and there are quite large areas where it is not recorded at all.
Up to a metre in height, silene vulgaris is a branching perennial with drooping white, pink-veined flowers and greyish leaves, but it is the large inflated calyx that gives Bladder Campion its common name and makes it instantly recognisable. It blooms over a long period, from late May through to the end of August and its flowers are slightly fragrant. Narrowly oval with pointed tips, the plant's leaves are in opposite pairs.
Unlike its cousins Red Campion and White Campion, which favour damp woodland edges and verges, Bladder Campion grows in dry grassland, especially where the soil is rich in lime.
The leaves of Bladder Campion are edible and are fried in oil or used in salads in some Mediterranean countries - in Cyprus it is occasionally grown as a crop and sold in bunches in the market.
Plants of the genus silene have roots containing the compound saponin, which, although a mildly toxic substance, has long been used as soap for washing clothes and hair. There are references to some kinds of campion being used to treat snake bites and as a cure for corns and warts.
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