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Silene vulgaris, Bladder Campion


A good moth plant.

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

Prefers a well-drained moisture retentive light loamy soil in a sunny position.

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. 

Edible uses:

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, Bladder Campion contains 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.


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