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Snowy Campion (Silene nivea)

Life history

Species overview

Snowy Campion (Silene nivea), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found on streambanks and stream-side meadows, often in reed canary grass. It also occurs along deciduous forest margins, near streams and rivers. Blooming occurs late June through late July; fruiting occurs early July through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late July.

Synonyms: Cucubalus niveus


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from other Silene species in a having glabrous, inflated calyx and petals with ligule-like appendages.
  • Flower characteristics: Few, mostly axillary; calyx greenish, 1.5 cm, umbilicate; petals white, without auricles, with oblong ligule-like appendages 1 to 1.6 mm; blade cuneate, 8 mm, 2-lobed or 2-cleft; styles 3.
  • Fruit characteristics: Capsule spherical, unilocular, opening by 6 teeth; seeds dark.
  • Leaf characteristics: Opposite, mainly or wholly cauline, sessile or short-petiolate, lanceolate or lance-oblong, 5 to 10 cm long by 1 to 3.5 cm wide.


  • Blooming phenology: late June through late July
  • Fruiting phenology: early July through late August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late July


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Angelica atropurpurea, Rudbeckia laciniata, Phalaris arundinacea.

State status

Note: Snowy Campion (Silene nivea) was removed from the Wisconsin E/T list on January 1, 2014 per administrative rule ER-27-11. Learn more.

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Snowy Campion (Silene nivea). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Silene nivea in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG4?
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on streambanks and stream-side meadows, often in reed canary grass. It also occurs along deciduous forest margins, near streams and rivers.
  • Soils: Sandy, alluvial soils

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Snowy Campion. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Floodplain Forest 1
Southern Sedge Meadow 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Snowy Campion. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.
  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.


Snowy Campion Photo.

Photo © Josh Freiburger.

Snowy Campion Photo.

Photo © Josh Freiburger.

Snowy Campion Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Snowy Campion Photo.

Silene nivea has opposite leaves that are light green in color. Vegetative plants are easiest to find in June and early July in grass or sedge-dominated open wetlands.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Snowy Campion Photo.

Photo © Corey Raimond.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition