Spalding's catchfly (Silene spaldingii) is an herbaceous perennial in the pink family (Caryophyllacea). The species is endemic to the Palouse region of south-east Washington and adjacent Oregon and Idaho, and is disjunct in northwestern Montana and British Columbia, Canada. This species is found predominantly in the Pacific Northwest bunchgrass grasslands and-steppe, and occasionally in open-canopy pine stands. Occupied habitat includes five physiographic (physical geographic) regions: 1) the Palouse Grasslands in west-central Idaho and southeastern Washington; 2) the Channeled Scablands in east-central Washington; 3) the Blue Mountain Basins in northeastern Oregon; 4) the Canyon Grasslands along major river systems in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington; and 5) the Intermontane Valleys of northwestern Montana and British Columbia, Canada.
The plant produces one to several vegetative or flowering stems that arise from a simple or branched persistent underground stem (caudex), which surmounts a long, narrow taproot. Plants range from 20 to 40 cm in height. Each stem typically bears 4 to 7 pairs of simple, opposite leaves that are 5 to 8 cm in length and 2 to 4 cm in width. Similar to the majority of plants in this family, Spalding's catchfly has distinctly swollen nodes located where the leaves are attached to the stem. Reproductive individuals produce 3 to 20 cream to pink or light green flowers that are borne in a branched, terminal inflorescence. All green portions of the plant (foliage, stem, and flower bracts) are covered in dense sticky hairs that frequently trap dust and insects, giving this species the common name "catchfly".
Plants (both vegetative and reproductive) emerge in mid-to late May. Flowering typically occurs from mid-July through August, but may occasionally continue into October. Rosettes are formed the first and possibly the second year, followed by the formation of vegetative stems. Above-ground vegetation dies back at the end of the growing season and plants either emerge in the spring or remain dormant below ground for one to several consecutive years. Spalding's catchfly reproduces solely by seed. It lacks rhizomes or other means of reproducing vegetatively. Spalding's catchfly was listed as threatened in 2001 and a final recovery plan for this plant was released October 15, 2007.
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