Herb: Bladder Campion

Latin name: Silene vulgaris

Synonyms: Cucubalus behen, Silene cucubalus, Silene inflata

Family: Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family, Starwort Family)

Medicinal use of Bladder Campion:

The plant is said to be emollient and is used in baths or as a fumigant. The juice of the plant is used in the treatment of ophthalmia.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Arable land, roadsides, grassy slopes etc, avoiding acid soils.

Edible parts of Bladder Campion:

Young shoots and leaves - raw or cooked. The young leaves are sweet and very agreeable in salads. The cooked young shoots, harvested when about 5cm long, have a flavour similar to green peas but with a slight bitterness. This bitterness can be reduced by blanching the shoots as they appear from the ground. When pureed it is said to rival the best spinach purees. The leaves can also be finely chopped and added to salads. The leaves should be used before the plant starts to flower. Some caution is advised, see the notes on toxicity above.

Other uses of the herb:

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it is most likely that the following use can be made of the plant:- The root is used as a soap substitute for washing clothes etc. The soap is obtained by simmering the root in hot water.

Propagation of Bladder Campion:

Seed - sow early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, an outdoor sowing in situ can be made. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Arable land, roadsides, grassy slopes etc, avoiding acid soils.

Known hazards of Silene vulgaris:

Although no mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it does contain saponins. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.