Lindsay Bourque again wrote today’s entry:
Commonly known as bladder campion, this species native to most of Europe is recognized by its balloon-like pale green calyx (veined with dark green or red) and its hairless leaves. Silene vulgaris was eaten as a starvation crop–the tender new leaves are similar to spinach and were eaten raw, boiled or fried. In the La Mancha region of Spain, bladder campion was used to prepare a dish called “gazpacho viudo” (or widower’s gazpacho). This dish was eaten when meat was scarce, and so named because this essential ingredient was missing.
This is one of several campions introduced to North America from Europe, where it has subsequently become invasive in some areas. However, Silene vulgaris is quickly gaining status in Europe as a plant used in mine reclamation, as populations in parts of Wales have evolved with high copper polluted mining operations and can now process high levels of heavy metal in its soils. Researchers have found that the tolerance is retained in propagated plants and are now assessing the potential to use Silene vulgaris in other parts of Europe where mining has polluted the soil.