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Lychnis coronaria - Rose Campion

Rose Campion

Common Name: Rose Campion, Rose Campy[1]

Scientific Name: Lychnis coronaria

The species Rose campion, also called Rose Campy, is a native of Europe. It was being cultivated in English gardens by the 17th century (including cultivating double forms) and in American gardens by the 1700s. According to Denise Adams, the first known mention of the rose campion by an American source is in Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book:[2] he recorded "Lychnis in bloom" at his boyhood home, Shadwell, in 1767.[3] Three color forms were listed in Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon's broadside catalog in 1804, including a bi-colored form called -€˜Painted Lady'. Thomas Jefferson received seed of "Lychnis" from Bernard McMahon in 1807.[4]

The Rose campion is a hardy, early summer flowering biennial or short-lived perennial with brilliant, magenta-colored flowers and contrasting thick, fuzzy, gray-green foliage.

Primary Source References[5]

1807 November 9. (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead to Jefferson). "I left Monticello they had increased so much as to fill the beds quite full...Lychnis...failed..."[6]


  1. This section is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 193.
  3. Betts, Garden Book, 6. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  4. Ibid., 335.
  5. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  6. Betts, Garden Book, 352-353.

Further Sources


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