Dianthus deltoides

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaCaryophyllaceaeDianthusDianthus deltoides


A perennial herb of dry, usually base-rich, soils overlying chalk and limestone, mica-schist or basalt; sometimes on metal-rich mining spoil or sandy soils and dunes. It can occur in short, closed grassland, but prefers an open sward broken by bare rock or soil. It also occurs as a garden escape. 0-355 m (Parsley Hay, Derbys.).



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Boreo-temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe; widely naturalised outside its native range.

Broad Habitats

Calcareous grassland (includes lowland and montane types)

Light (Ellenberg): 8

Moisture (Ellenberg): 3

Reaction (Ellenberg): 5

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 2

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.1

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15

Annual Precipitation (mm): 797

Height (cm): 37

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary


Comment on Life Form

Definitely a chamaephyte; the overwintering bits are down below



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 223

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 0

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 1

Atlas Change Index: -0.41

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Dianthus deltoides L.

Maiden pink

Status: scarce



Found in sandy grassland or heath and amongst detritus on rocky outcrops, D. deltoides favours sunny slopes on soils with some base content, such as those derived from Silurian sandstones, basalt, mica-schist, Carboniferous limestone or chalk. It usually grows in areas where the sward is broken by bare rock or bare soil. Although it occurs in species-rich grassland, it does not grow in close proximity to the more characteristic species such as Helianthemum nummularium, Saxifraga granulata and Viola lutea but rather with commoner species such as Agrostis capillaris, Aira praecox, Dactylis glomerata, Festuca ovina, F. rubra, Galium verum, Plantago lanceolata, Thymus polytrichus and Ulex europaeus. Colonies on Silurian rocks may be restricted to a particular stratum on which the flora is not otherwise notably different from the surroundings. In Derbyshire it occurs in fairly tall species-rich vegetation on metalliferous spoil. It is mostly confined to the lowlands, but occurs at 355 metres at Parsley Hay. 

D. deltoides is a loosely tufted perennial reproducing by seed. Colonies typically consist of a mixture of long-established plants and young plants on the more open areas.

D. deltoides is now largely confined to small refugia whose fate is linked to the management of a wider area. It has suffered from over-grazing following partial re-seeding, from the total removal of grazing and from the conversion of its sites to conifer plantations. There are few large colonies.

Its range covers all Europe north to Norway, Finland and Russia, and temperate Asia. In Europe it is a somewhat continental species, being much less frequent in western Europe than it is further east (Jalas & Suominen 1986).



M. E. Braithwaite

Atlas text references

Atlas (66b)
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jalas & Suominen (1986)
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.