Moss Campion (Silene Acaulis): Everything You Need to Know

Moss campion is a perennial ground-hugging evergreen plant. This plant can enhance the beauty of the ground with its tiny leaves and pink flowers. Mainly, those flowers bloom in summer.

I will discuss the plant’s growth, appearance, longevity, and benefits. You will also learn about their adaptations and role in the environment. Sounds fascinating? Stay tuned with me till the end to find out everything about moss campion.

Moss Campion At a Glance

ParametersDetails
Scientific nameSilene acaulis
Plant typeFern, moss, ground covers
Plant size2-6 inches
Leaf size0.3-inch
WidthDiameter of 12 inches
Soil conditionRocky, sandy, loamy
USDA zone8A
WateringNormal
Sun exposureFull sun or partial shade
Leaf colorGreen
Flower colorPink, white
Blooming seasonEarly summer to mid-summer
ToxicityNon-toxic
UsesHuman consumption, Medicinal remedies

What is Moss Campion?

Moss Campion is one type of flowering plant that you can find in the mountains. The size of the plant is small compared to other similar plants. The scientific name of Moss Campion is Silene acaulis, and it belongs to the Caryophyllaceae family.

Moss Campion

Moss Campion is an evergreen perennial wildflower plant. The height is so small that from an upside view, it’s like the flowers hugging the ground.

Usually, the plant’s height is 2 inches, but it can grow to a maximum of 6 inches. The leaves arising from the plant basement are bright green and too narrow.

The color of the flowers is usually pink, but sometimes white flowers are seen. The white color flower appears rarely. However, two types of flowers are found, one type is solitary, and the other is star-shaped. The width range of the flower is between 6 to 12 mm.

These plants appear like dense cushions with a diameter of 12 or more inches. All the flower’s genders aren’t the same in a cushion. The best quality can be found in female flowers. These flowers usually appear in June, July, and August.

Why Is It Called Moss Campion: Moss Campion Flower Meaning?

The word “Campion” came from the word Champion. The secret behind the word champion is it was used in sports events. For the people who won any sports event in Europe, this flower was used in their head wreaths. That’s where the name Campion comes from.

These flowering plants look like Moss when it blooms. From late spring to midsummer, these appear with their pinky look. Moss Campion likes dry conditions.

This plant is also known as the “Compass Plant” because, on the south side of a cushion, flowers appear first, then spread over the entire cushion. 

Where Does Moss Campion Grow?

Moss Campion is a wildflower plant that is usually found in the high Mountains. Most commonly, these plants grow in Europe and North America. The moist areas of the mountains are the best place to grow for them.

The flowers also grow in some specific places in the United States Mountains, mostly in the Rocky Mountains. Sandy and rocky soil is suitable for the growth of Moss Campion.

Moss campion creates warmer conditions inside the cushions on its own. When the bright sunlight falls into the cushions, the temperature inside gets high and creates a warm environment. Moreover, the south side of a cushion survives less time than the other sides.

What Does Moss Campion Look Like?

The majority of Moss Campion grows in higher alpine regions. Most of them grow up to 5 to 12 cm in height. Being smaller in height, the cushion of the plants looks like ground-hugging. The advantage of being a cushion is it protects plants from heavy wind.

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The cushion is soft and green in color, and the flowers are small and star shaped. The leaves coming from the base spread and are exposed to the environment. The beauty of the Moss Campion is seen when someone takes a closer look.

You will rarely find white flowers. Generally, you can find a mixture of white and pink flowers in one cushion of flowers.

How Big Does a Moss Campion Get?

Moss Campion doesn’t grow big. Small-size Moss Campion normally grows not more than 2 inches and 18 inches in diameter. From a far distance, you can’t see it clearly and can’t identify whether it is Moss Campion or not.

Moss Campion adaptation

There are advantages to being small in size. It can retain moisture from the soil.  Another advantage is it can avoid wind that can damage or tear the flowers.

However, sometimes Moss Campion can grow up to a maximum of 6 inches. But this size Moss Campion has been found rarely in Alpine or Mountains.

In Plateau Mountain, the oldest and biggest Moss campion is found, which is 350 years old. The size was 2 feet in diameter.

Moss Campion Adaptations

Mostly, the Moss Campion appears in the Rocky place of Alpine Tundra and high Mountains. To survive in harsh environments, Alpine tundra plants have developed particular adaptations. Those adaptations are

  • Protected leaves and buds: Most of them have small, ground-hugging leaves and buds hidden inside the foliage for optimal protection. This helps in retaining their moisture and protects them from drying out.
  • Slow growth: Moss Campion grows very slowly. They produce their own warmer climate inside the cushion when the bright sun ray falls into it.
  • Compact tussock: It has a compact tussock and prostate. Those help them to compile the heat from the sun. Not only that, but this also helps in their protection from harsh wind and frosting weather.
  • Moisture absorption: They can absorb moisture from the ground when needed.
  • Nutrient collection: It collects nutrients from the air for its growth.
  • Grows in wet soil: They prefer moist soil because they have no roots and can dry out wholly if there is no rain or water.
  • Nectar in flower: The flowers of this plant contain nectar, which attracts pollinators. Mainly bees and butterflies can only reach up to those nectars. Thus, cross-pollination occurs.

How Fast Does the Moss Campion Grow?

Since the name is Moss Campion, it grows as normal moss grows. Usually, Moss Campion grows very slowly.

It needs months to years to grow the flowers with the best quality. Different places need different growing times.

You should take proper steps during the plantation of the Moss Campion. If you keep watering and fertilizing regularly, the plant will show a bit of faster. The most important thing is that the place where the Moss Campion grows needs sunlight.

How Long Does Moss Campion Live?

Moss campion has a very long lifespan. Generally, the average age of Moss Campion is 200 years suggested by Elias National Park in Alaska.

But Moss Campion in different places has different lifetimes. It depends on the condition of the place where it was grown.

Moss Campion leaves

You will find Moss Campion in Colorado has a shorter lifespan. Usually, these plants’ life duration is between 75 to 100 years. Another plant found in Alaska may live up to 300 years.

The plants in the tundra, which are more than 6 inches in diameter, can live over 200 years. Interestingly, the oldest Moss Campion that you can find is about 350 years old. The age number is a great surprise for everyone.

How Much Sun Does Moss Campion Need?

Moss Campion need proper sunlight for their proper growth. Unlike other moss, moss campion can’t grow in the dark.

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Typically, moss can grow without the presence of any sunlight when there is enough humidity in the environment. But usually, moss campion needs full sun or partial sun. They will die if you plant them in full shade.

Mainly, this plant compiles heat from the sun inside the flowers. This keeps them warm against the harsh winter of the tundra region. Therefore, when they don’t get proper sunlight, they won’t be able to adapt to the harsh weather.

Also, moss campion needs well-drained soil. If the place is dark and not well drained, there is a high chance that the root of this plant will be rotten.

Is Moss Campion Edible?

The answer is yes, Moss Campion is edible, and many people from various regions eat it. Besides, animals, including sheep and deer, eat it most of the time.

The Moss Campion is eaten after cooking it. People can eat the flowers directly, but it’s not hygienic. Boiling it with water will make it more edible than raw.

Moss Campion on mountain

Iceland, the Arctic, and the Alpine regions all eat it as a vegetable. The Eskimos have consumed raw root skins as food. But you shouldn’t eat excess levels; otherwise, it will make your stomach feel uncomfortable.

Moss Campion Taste

Generally, the raw Moss Campion tastes sweet. You will taste sweet immediately after you take it in your mouth. People from various regions eat it as a substitute for vegetables.

You can cook it to taste better than raw products. Also, you can use the flower as a sweet flavor in other foods while cooking. Sometimes the plants and flowers may taste bitter. It’s because of the condition of the place where it grows.

Sweet-loving people can eat too much after they taste it for the first time. But it will be harmful to their health. Cook the flower in your style to increase its taste.

Moss Campion Use

Moss Campion is used for several purposes. Here are some purposes are-

  1. Gardening: Many gardens use this for rock gardens. It increases the beauty of a garden. You may see them in some gardens and homes because Moss Campion can beautify the garden that attracts people.
  2. Eating purpose: You may know that moss Campion is edible. So people in Canada and Iceland use these roots for eating purposes.
  3. Animals Grazing: Moss Campion is not a common plant. So it isn’t used regularly. But deer or sheep may feed it sometimes.
  4. Sports: Moss Campion was used as a crown in sports. People wear it as a crown after winning a sport.

What Animals Eat Moss Campion?

Generally, there are only a few animals that live on moss campion. One of the key reasons behind that is you won’t find this plant everywhere as it grows only in a few parts of the globe.

This plant mainly grows on slopes and high mountains, which are not approachable for most animals. That’s why there are fewer predators for this moss campion.

Several animals like sheep and deer in the tundra region seldom can find this plant. You should know that sheep and deer are fond of moss plants. Hence, they will love to beat the moss campion whenever they can find it.

Moss campion also contains nectar, an excellent food source for butterflies and moths. But, to be honest, this plant is most popular for human consumption. There is less record of this plant being used as animal feed.

Is Moss Good for Wildlife?

Yes, Moss is good for wildlife. You may know that moss is known for its eco-friendly nature. Some of the roles that moss plays in wildlife are

  • Producer: Moss can absorb sunlight and produce their own food through photosynthesis. That’s why they are producers of the ecosystem. Many other consumers can depend on it for their food.
  • Retain moisture: Moreover, it prevents forests and soil from dying. As it can retain the moisture in the soil, it helps other plants to get adequate moisture essential for their growth.
  • Bird’s nest material: Even it provides minibeasts. You may have seen that birds often build their nest by using moss.
  • Pollination: Sometimes, seeds of other plants that come with the wind are found in the moss plant. Many birds come to the moss plant to eat those seeds. Those birds become the pollinators of those seeds.
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What Did Native Americans Use Moss Campion For?

Native Americans used moss campion in various ways. Some of those are

  • Food source: As the moss campion is edible, native Americans used this plant as their food source.
  • Alternative of vegetables: Native Americans used to eat this plant as a substitute for vegetables. Mainly, they were very fond of consuming the roots of moss campion.
  • Bandage: They even used the leaves of this plant as bandage materials.
  • Clothing: Native American women used to use this plant as their clothing materials.
  • Mattress filling: They use moss to fill their mattress. This way, they can protect themselves from the harsh cold weather and keep themselves warm.
  • Fuel: Drier moss campion is an excellent fuel. It can catch fire quite easily.

Is Moss Campion a Medicinal Plant? Medicinal Use of Moss Campion

Moss campion is a medicinal plant. There are few records of this plant in modern medical treatment. But ancient people used this for remedies. Here are some of the medicinal benefits of Moss Campion:

1. Heal wound

When you use the leaves as bandages over your wound, it will create a sterile environment surrounding the wound. That means the pH level around the wound will go down.

This will inhibit the growth of bacteria in the wounded place. Hence, you can protect the wounded place from bacterial infections.

2. Colic Treatment

You may have heard about colic. This is a disease of children crying frequently and intensely. Mainly children suffer from colic. Moss was previously used as a remedy for children with colic.

3. Gastrointestinal Disease

Moss Campion is often used as a remedy for Gastrointestinal Disease. As the plant contains fiber, consumption of this plant can add bulk to the stool. This may prevent or reduce bowel diseases like constipation or diarrhea.

Also, when soluble fiber breaks down in the body, it lowers the gastrointestinal index. This results in reducing gastrointestinal issues.

FAQs

1.     Where is Moss Campion adapted to live?

Moss campion needs sunny places to grow and live. They adapt their life in Alpine fellfield, above treeline on wind-swept rocky ridges and summits. They thrive in wetter areas as well as dry, gravelly areas.

2.     What climate does moss thrive in?

Moss needs humid areas to thrive in. Extra care needs for thriving the Moss in dry and low-humid regions. The place needs to be sunny also.

3.     Does moss come back every year?

Yes, moss comes back every year. Many gardeners appreciate moss as a beauty. But if you want to get rid of this, it will be a waste of time. It will come back again as moss is known as the first responder.

Conclusion

Moss campion is indeed an attractive plant. It looks better during the summer when the flower blooms. However, you can only find them in the alpine and tundra regions.

Their specific adaptations to the tundra-alpine weather make this their natural habitat. Most interestingly, this plant is not toxic like other wild plants. That’s why you don’t have to worry even if you consume this plant accidentally.

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