Dianthus armeria

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaCaryophyllaceaeDianthusDianthus armeria


An annual or short-lived perennial herb of open, disturbed sites, occurring in short grassland in pastures, roadsides, waysides and field margins, and as a casual on waste ground. It usually grows on dry, often mildly basic soils, but has been recorded on fen-peat. Lowland.



World Distribution

European Temperate element; widely naturalised elsewhere.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 5

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 4.2

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 16.2

Annual Precipitation (mm): 805

Height (cm): 60

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 206

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 2

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 8

Atlas Change Index: -1.31

Plantatt Conservation Status


JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Dianthus armeria L.

Deptford Pink

Status: scarce


This is a plant of dry pastures, field borders and hedgerows. It prefers short grassland, where there is some open ground maintained either by grazing or some other form of disturbance, and dies out when shaded by coarse grasses or scrub invasion. It is found on light, sandy, slightly basic soil where associates include Achillea millefolium, Daucus carota, Lotus corniculatus, Ranunculus repens and Trifolium repens. It formerly grew on peaty soil of pH 4.8 at Woodwalton Fen (Wells 1967) where its commoner associates were Agrostis capillaris, Festuca rubra, Luzula campestris, Plantago lanceolata and Potentilla erecta. It is confined to the lowlands.

D. armeria can behave as an annual or biennial. The flowers lack scent and are seldom visited by insects and the plant is generally self-pollinated. It produces abundant seed, about 400 per plant, with 70% germination after 6 months' storage at room temperature. However, there may be an inhibiting factor which delays germination for up to 5 months after seeds are shed (Farrell, pers. obs.; Wells 1967). 

The species has declined throughout southern England, mainly due to the conversion of pasture to arable or building land (Smith 1986).

D. armeria occurs widely across western and central Europe, extending eastwards to the Crimea and southwards to central Spain and Sicily (Jalas & Suominen 1986). It is also found in Anatolia and the Caucasus. It has been introduced into North America.

The beneficial effects of grazing by Galloway cattle, rabbits and hares are discussed by Wells (1967).



L. Farrell

Atlas text references

Atlas (65d)
Akeroyd & Clark (1993)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1986)
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.
Wigginton MJ
1999.  British Red Data Books. 1. Vascular plants, edn 3.
Wilson PJ
1999.  The status and distribution of Dianthus armeria L. in Britain. Report for 1998. Back from the Brink Report No. 117.