|Deptford Pink - Dianthus armeria|
Family: Caryophyllaceae (Pinks)
Live wildflowers photographed in the wild at Winfield Mounds Forest Preserve, Winfield, Illinois
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Range & Habitat: The Deptford Pink is fairly common in Illinois, except for some central and NW areas of the state, where it is rare or absent (see Distribution Map). This species is adventive from Europe and is becoming more common in disturbed areas. Habitats include pastures, abandoned fields,Close-up of Leaves & Stems areas along roadsides and railroads, paths along the edge of woodlands that are irregularly mowed, grassy meadows with a history of disturbance, and miscellaneous waste areas. This species declines in high quality habitats because it isn't competitive with many broad-leaved perennial forbs.
The nectar of the flowers likely attracts small butterflies, skippers, long-tongued bees, and bee flies. This is implied by the long tubular calyx and the restricted opening at the throat of the flower, although I have not seen very many insects visiting the flowers. Short-tongued bees may collect the pollen, while flower flies undoubtedly feed on the pollen – the latter group of insects is unlikely to be effective at pollination. The foliage of members of the Pink family tends to be high in saponins and unattractive to mammalian herbivores. In pastures, livestock probably eat this insubstantial species along with the surrounding grass.
The Deptford Pink has attractive flowers, but they are quite small. This plant is easy to overlook until it begins blooming. The Deptford Pink is fairly easy to identify in the field because of the appearance of the flower petals: they are usually more narrow than the petals of other Dianthus spp., their outer edges are toothed, and they have small white dots across the surface. The flowers of this species are smaller in size and less showy than the flowers of Dianthus spp. (Pinks) that are commonly cultivated in flower gardens. The common name refers to an area of England where this species was once common. (3)
1. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN)
2. University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
3. Illinois Wildflowers - John Hilty
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