Deptford Pink

Dianthus armeria
Caryophyllaceae (pinks, carnations)

A stiffly erect annual or biennial with slender stems. Flowers in small groups (cymes), subtended by long, linear bracts and a green calyx; corolla lobes 5, fringed at the tip, pinkish or purplish red with white dots (rarely all white). Blooms May-October. Leaves very narrow, linear, to 3 inches long, opposite and hairy.

Similar species: There are four Dianthus species recorded for our state. All of them are native to Europe or western Asia, and all but Deptford pink are rather uncommon and would most likely be encountered only as escapes from cultivation. Carnations are in this same genus.

Height: to 20 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Fields, pastures, prairies, waste places, roadsides. Often grows in large colonies in abandoned fields. A native of Europe, it was probably first introduced to North America as a garden ornamental, although today is is rarely cultivated. Several other Dianthus species are popular for gardening. Although the flowers of many pinks are pink, it is the characteristic "pinked" (zigzag-edged) petals that gave them their name; the flowers, in turn, inspired "pink" as a color name.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Human connections: 
Deptford, now a part of London, is where a 1633 botanical book claimed this species grew. However, since that tome said it was a "creeping pink" with leaves lying "flat upon the ground," it seems a different species had been observed. Other languages use different common names.
Ecosystem connections: 
Whether on purpose or by accident, people have moved plants across the globe. In some cases, these introduced plants "escape" and can become classified as "naturalized," which means they grow and reproduce on their own, out of cultivation. Not all naturalized plants are invasive.
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