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Perennial herbs. Leaves sessile or shortly petioled. Inflorescence dense or lax dichasial cymes. Flowers mostly bisexual, 5-merous, with contorted aestivation. Petals long-clawed, with coronal scales. Stamens 10. Ovary unilocular or at the base 5-locular. Capsule sessile or stipitate, ± spherical to ellipsoid, enclosed in the calyx, opening by 5 undivided teeth. Seeds reniform, flat.


About 25 species in the temperate and arctic regions of the northern hemisphere.


The genus is morphologically and also in cytology close to Silene and is sometimes included in that genus. The oldest name, however, is Lychnis and so far no author has proposed the numerous new combinations that would be the consequence of the amalgamation of the two genera.


Pax & Hoffm. 1934 – In: Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam., ed. 2, 16c: 339
Guettard 1750: Hist. Acad. Sci. (Paris) Mém.
Bittrich 1993 – In: Kubitzki et al., Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 2: 233