I found this wildflower blooming on a west-facing somewhat rocky hillside. The Fire Pink (Silene virginica) is a perennial herb in the Carnation family.
This is a short perennial plant that is also called Scarlet Catchfly due to the short hairs that secrete a sticky substance which it uses to catch insects. This sticky substance also discourages ants from climbing the stem to steal the nectar.
The flowers are a deep scarlet red with deep notches in the flower petals. Each flower is about 1 1/2″ across and they are about 1″ long. It is believed that ruby-throated hummingbirds and some large butterflies help to pollenate the flowers.
The preferred habitat is rocky wooded slopes, thinly wooded bluffs, openings in upland wooded areas, and areas where there is not significant undergrowth. They prefer soil that is sandy or has too much rocky material. They can decline in an area if the tree canopy becomes too dense. It is native throughout most of the eastern half of the United States, including Oklahoma and Texas.
The Fire Pink blooms from April throughout the summer into August. Although the plant is small and can be anywhere from as short as 6″ to as tall as 24″, when they are blooming they really stand out in the woods. The dark red color shines like a beacon among the other green plants in the forest.
If you would like to get more information about this beautiful wildflower you can go here to get further information from the US Forest Service website. Wikipedia also has a page dedicated to this flower with further information.
*Photography by Gary Davis Photography