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Maiden Pink

This delicate perennial flower grows only in the East of Scotland on lime-rich and grassy banks, but it is losing its habitat through over-grazing. A member of the Pink family, it is now widely used as a garden plant with many cultivated sub-species available. The wild version, however, is becoming harder to spot, but is a special sight on a sunny day. On dull, cloudy days the flowers close up making it, with its slender stems, less noticeable in grassland.

The stems are grey-green and form low tufts, turning upright to produce flowers. Stalkless leaves sprout in pairs along the stems, pointing in the direction of the stem and are narrowly spear-shaped, bluish, some pointed, but lower leaves blunt. The leaf edges are smooth, ie un-toothed, and have rough hairs.

The flowers are a deep, blushing pink with 5 equal petals growing to 20mm in diameter. They grow singly or in groups between 1 and 3 at the stem tips.  Petals can appear spotted with white or pale spots and all have a deeper pink band around the edge. Each petal is frayed at the tip. There are 10 white or pale stamens, with white anthers.

The fruit is a single capsule which elongates from the ovary to 15mm, and carries many flattened black seeds.

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