Perennial herb with a stout taproot 10 - 30 cm tall Stem: upright or decumbent, often with a waxy coating (glaucous). Leaves: opposite, stiff, upright, two to eight pairs, 2 - 8 cm long, 1.5 - 3 mm wide, linear with a pointed tip, three-veined. Basal leaves longer than the stem leaves. Flowers: one to five, long-stalked, red to white, cleft and fringed at the apex, strongly clove-scented. Stalks 1 - 3 cm long. Stamens ten. Styles two. Sepals: five, forming a cylindrical tube (calyx). Calyx 1.5 - 3 cm long, five-lobed, about 40-veined. Petals: five, red to white, 1 - 2 cm long, clawed, cleft and fringed at the apex. Fruit: a dehiscent capsule (opening by four teeth), longer than the calyx tube. Seeds numerous, blackish brown, shield-shaped.
Similar species: Dianthus deltoides is similar but its leaves are lax, its petals are toothed, and its flowers are not clove-scented.
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from Europe. An escape from cultivation that has established itself at several cemeteries in the sandy districts.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Dianthus comes from the Greek words dios, meaning divine, and anthos, meaning flower; the divine flower or the flower of Zeus. Plumarius means plumed or feathered.
Loosely multicipital perennial, 1-3 dm, glabrous and often glaucous; lvs linear, 2-8 cm נ1.5-3 mm, 3-nerved, the 2-8 pairs of cauline ones shorter than the basal; fls 1-5 on pedicels 1-3 cm; cal 15-30 mm, ca 40-nerved, the lobes 4-5 mm, pet-blade red to white, 12-18 mm, fringed-cleft to near the middle; fr surpassing the cal; 2n=30, 90. Native of Europe, occasionally escaped from cult. mainly in the n. part of our range. May-Aug.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.