florida Early Detection Network


Ragged robin


Lychnis flos-cuculi L.


Pink family


Lychnis flos-cuculi






Synonyms: Coronaria flos-cuculi (L.) A. Braun, Silene flos-cuculi (L.) Greuter & Burdet


Botanical Glossary

Lychnis flos-cuculi is an herbaceous perennial that grows 30-80 cm (12-31 in.) in height. The stems of the plant are slender and viscid hairy towards the inflorescence, and the leaves are opposite. There are 4-5 pairs of sessile stem leaves that are lanceolate in shape, acute at the tips and measure 5-10 cm (2-4 in.) long and 8-12 mm (0.3-0.4 in.) wide. The lower stem and basal leaves of the plant have petioles. There are small, overwintering rosettes that can be dense with numerous leaves. This plant usually has dark pink or rose (rarely pale pink or white) flowers that are arranged in open panicles. The flowers have five petals that are each divided into four linear lobes of which the middle two tend to be the longest. The flowers are 1.7-2.5 cm (0.6-1 in.) across. Lychnis flos-cuculi is in flower from late May to July. The fused calyx surrounds the developing fruit capsule, becoming bell-shaped when the plant is in fruit. The fruits are spherical capsules that are sessile within the calyx. Page References Bailey 377, Fernald 630, Gleason & Cronquist 123, Holmgren 107, Magee & Ahles 476, Newcomb 260, Peterson & McKenny 222, Seymour 259. See reference section below for full citiations.




Seeds of Lychnis flos-cuculi are dispersed mechanically when the capsules split open at maturity. Water may act as a seconday dispersal mechanism as this plant grows in wet habitats.


Lychnis flos-cuculi is native to most of Europe, from Scandanavia in the north to Italy in the south and west to northern Russia. In the United States this plant has been reported from Maine to Maryland and west to Ohio, as well as Wisconsin, Washington and Montana. It has been reported from all of the New England states.


Lychnis flos-cuculi was likely introduced into New England by intentional planting. However, there is a report of it being in ship ballast near New York City in 1880. So it is possible that it was introduced both intentionally as well as through ship ballast. It appears that this plant has increased its abundance in recent years.


Edge, Herbaceous Wetland, Roadside, Sphagnum Bog, Wet Meadow, Yard or Garden. Lychnis flos-cuculi grows best in full sun where the soil is moist. It is often found along roadsides and in wet ditches.


Lychnis flos-cuculi is not a widespread threat in New England, but in some isolated locations it has formed large, monotypic stands. It is sold for horticultural purposes.


Plant Conservation Alliance Fact sheet including management information


Documentation required: Picture with flowers. Best time for documentation: Late spring


Integrated Taxonomic Information System Taxonomic information

The PLANTS Database General information and a map

Wisconsin State Herbarium Photos and a state map

Connecticut Botanical Society Image and basic information


Bailey, L.H. 1949. Manual of Cultivated Plants. Macmillan, New York.

Biere, A. 1995. Genotypic and plastic variation in plant size - effects on fecundity and allocation patterns in Lychnis flos-cuculi along a gradient of natural soil fertility. Journal of Ecology 83(4): 629-642.

Biere, A. 1996. Intra-specific variation in relative growth rate: impact on competitive ability and performance of Lychnis flos-cuculi in habitats differing in soil fertility. Plant and Soil 182(2): 313-327.

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany 8th edition. American Book Company, New York.

Gleason, H.A. 1952. The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. New York

Gleason H.A. and A.C. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Hauser, T.P. and V. Loeschcke. 1994. Inbreeding depression and mating-distance dependent offspring fitness in large and small populations of Lychnis flos-cuculi (Caryophyllaceae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 7(5): 609-622.

Hauser, T.P. and V. Loeschcke. 1995. Inbreeding depression in Lychnis flos-cuculi (Caryophyllaceae) - effects of different levels of inbreeding. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 8(5): 589-600.

Hauser, T.P. and V. Loeschcke. 1996. Drought stress and inbreeding depression in Lychnis flos-cuculi (Caryophyllaceae). Evolution 50(3): 1119-1126.

Holmgren N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Hopkins, A., R.F. Pywell, S. Peel, R.H. Johnson, P.J. Bowling. 1999. Enhancement of botanical diversity of permanent grassland and impact on hay production in environmentally sensitive areas in the UK. Grass and Forage Science 54(2): 163-173.

Jensen, K. 1998. Species composition of soil seed bank and seed rain of abandoned wet meadows and their relation to aboveground vegetation. Flora 193(4): 345-359.

Magee D.W and H.E. Ahles. 1999. Flora of the Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Milberg, P. 1994. Annual dark domancy cycle in buried seeds of Lychnis flos-cuculi. Annales Botanici Fennici 31(3): 163-167.

Newcomb N. 1977. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Little Brown, Boston.

Peterson R.T. and M. McKenny. 1968. A field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Seymour, F.C. 1969. The Flora of New England. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.