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Annual, biennial or perennial herbs, rarely dwarfshrubs. Leaves exstipulate, simple, opposite, not or only slightly connate at the base. Inflorescence cymose, few- or many-flowered, dense or lax, simple or compound. Flowers 5-merous, mostly bisexual, sometimes unisexual. Petals 5, long-clawed, with or without coronal scales, lamina entire, emarginate or bifid. Stamens 10, rarely reduced in number in female or bisexual flowers. Ovary 3-5-partite in lower part, in upper part unilocular; Capsule dehiscing by 3-6 teeth; Seeds numerous, reniform to spherical, sometimes with a dorsal wing.


Africa present, Asia-Tropical, North America present
About 700 species of which c. 600 in Eurasia, the remaining in North America and northern Africa. In Malesia no indigenous species.


Greuter, Burdet & Long 1984 – In: MED-Checklist: 248
L. 1754: Gen. Pl., ed.5: 193
Rohrbach 1868: Monogr. Gatt. Silene
Pax & Hoffm. 1934 – In: Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam., ed. 2, 16c: 343
Chowdhuri 1957 – In: Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinb.: 221
Melzheimer in Fl. Iranica 1988 – In: Cont.: 341