Scientific Name: Silene vulgaris

Common Name: maidenstears

Other Common Names: bladder campion, cowbell, maiden's tears, rattleweed

Synonyms: Oberna commutata, Silene cucubalis, Silene inflata, Silene latifolia


Leaves: Leaves: Initially develop as somewhat of a basal rosette. Leaves are ovate to lance-shaped, and are easily confused as the leaves of a grass when this occurs as a weed in grass forages. Leaves are approximately 1 1/4 to 3 inches long and are without hairs. Stems: Erect, branching, reaching 3 1/3 feet in height. Stems are without hairs. Roots: Rhizomes and a fibrous root system.

Identifying Characteristics: An erect or low-growing perennial from rhizomes with 'bladder-like' flowers. Bladder campion is primarily a weed of pastures and hay fields, but may also occur along roadsides or in other forage crops. The hairless, opposite leaves and lobed, bladder-like flowers are all characteristics that help in the identification of bladder campion. White Campion (<a href='../../weedimg/16'>Silene alba</a>) is very similar in appearance and growth habit, but has hairs on the leaves and stems unlike bladder campion.

Flower Seed Head: Flowers: Occur in clusters of 5 to 30 white flowers that are each approximately 20 mm in width. Individual flowers consist of 5 white petals that are deeply lobed or split and resemble a "V". The flowers also have bladder-like cases which are actually fused inflated sepals with 20 distinct pink to white veins.

Seed Fruit: Seedlings: Cotyledons are 3 to 12 mm long, 1 to 2 1/2 mm wide, elliptical in outline, without hairs, and yellowish green in color. Fruit: A round capsule within the 'bladder.' Each fruit is approximately 1/2 inch long.

Where Found: This weed occurs throughout most of the United States.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Plant family: Caryophyllaceae