January 28, 2020

All the Rage

John F. Chisholm Photo | Lychnis flos-cuculi - Ragged robin

John F. Chisholm Photo | Lychnis flos-cuculi – Ragged robin

Lychnis flos-cuculi - Ragged robin

Janine Pineo Photo | Lychnis flos-cuculi – Ragged robin

New England is home to a European native that is no longer common in Britain because of modern farming techniques. Lychnis flos-cuculi might trip you up, so let’s just call it ragged robin. This member of the pink family has increased its reach in the Northeast in recent years, and its sale is even prohibited in Connecticut. The escapee can grow up to 2 feet tall, but the flower is only about an inch or so across. It is notable for its petals, which are deeply lobed and give the appearance of being a bit scraggly in a closeup. Pictured above is a rather impressive bank of ragged robin taken by John F. Chisholm, our farming essayist. The plant is thriving true to form, which is that it likes wet meadows and pastures. Ragged robin usually starts to blossom in May in Maine, peaking fairly quickly and then forming lots of seeds inside a capsule. And that explains its proliferation stateside.

Editor’s Note: Do you have a plant you’d like to see on Garden Maine? Here’s our submission form.