Plants perennial; taproot stout; caudex branched, somewhat fleshy. Stems erect, simple or several from base, retrorsely puberulent proximally, densely so and viscid distally, with stipitate glands. Leaves: blade with stiff, appressed pubescence on both surfaces; basal petiolate, blade lanceolate to elliptic or oblanceolate, (1.5-)3-10 cm × 4-12 mm (including petiole); cauline in 2-5 pairs, blade linear to linear-lanceolate, 3-9 cm × 2-7 mm. Inflorescences 1-20-flowered, bracteate, strongly viscid-glandular or less densely pubescent, longer hairs sometimes purple-septate; bracts narrowly lanceolate, thick, 3-15 mm, herbaceous, apex acuminate. Pedicels stiffly erect, 0.1-5 cm, varying in length within same inflorescence. Flowers: calyx 10-veined, broadly tubular to narrowly ellipsoid, not inflated, 12-18 × 4-8 mm in fruit, 2-3 times as long as broad, membranous between veins, margins dentate with 5 triangular, 1.2-2 mm lobes erect in flower and spreading in fruit, apex acuminate, veins green; petals off-white to dusky pink or dingy reddish purple, clawed, equaling or to 11/ 2 times calyx, claw broadened distally, limb not differentiated from claw, narrower than claw, 1-3 mm; stamens included in calyx; styles (4-)5, included in calyx. Capsules 12-15 mm, equaling calyx (rarely to 11/ 2 times calyx), opening by (4-)5 spreading teeth. Seeds dark brown, not winged, reniform to angular, 0.7-1 mm diam., margins finely papillate; papillae triangular, slender, longer than broad.
Subspecies drummondii is characteristically a prairie taxon, while subsp. striata is associated with the Rocky Mountains. However, the two taxa frequently appear to intergrade; e.g., in the Cypress Hills of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, and in the southern Rockies. Variety kruckebergii appears to be a luxuriant form with a more elongate capsule and calyx. Silene invisa, a Californian species, is similar to S. drummondii, some plants of which, from Nevada and Arizona, tend to be intermediate (see note under S. invisa).
Inflorescences 1-10(-20)-flow-ered, strongly viscid-glandular. Fruiting calyces 12-15 × 4-6 mm, 2 4-3 times as long as broad. Petals off-white to dusky pink, equaling calyx. Seeds ca. 0.7 mm diam. 2n = 48.
Flowering late spring-summer. Dry, often sandy or gravelly places, prairies, dunes, bluffs, hillsides, sagebrush, open montane woodlands and forests; 500-3000 m; Alta., B.C., Man., Sask.; Ariz., Colo., Idaho, Minn., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.Mex., N.Dak., S.Dak., Utah, Wyo.
Inflorescences 1-4(-8)-flowered, usually not densely pubescent, longer hairs often purple-septate. Fruiting calyces 13-18 × 6-8 mm, ca. 2 times as long as broad. Petals clearly exserted from calyx, dingy reddish purple, 11/ 1/ 2 times calyx. Seeds ca. 1 mm diam. 2n = 72.
Flowering summer. Alpine meadows and rocky places, high prairies, open montane woodlands and forests; 1500-3800 m; Sask.; Ariz., Colo., Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Utah, Wyo.
Perennial, 2-5 dm, retrorse-puberulent, becoming glandular and often hirsute in the infl; lvs mostly basal, the lanceolate or elliptic to oblanceolate blade 3-10 cm נ5-12 mm, petiolate; cauline lvs remote, 2-4 pairs, much reduced, usually linear; fls white or pinkish, perfect, 1-several in a loose, narrow infl; cal narrowly tubular, 1-1.5 cm in fl, enlarged but not inflated in fr, 10- nerved, glandular; pet included in the cal or the blade shortly exserted, the claw flaring upwards and usually broader than the blade, often auriculate, the blade 1-3 mm, retuse or shallowly lobed, the appendages less than 0.5 mm; styles (4)5; fr unilocular, opening by (4)5 teeth; 2n=24, 48. Dry hillsides and plains; B.C. to Ariz., e. to Sask., N.D., S.D., Neb., and Clay Co., Minn. June-Aug. (Lychnis d.)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.