Bladder Campion – Silene Vulgaris: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Pea Greens of Wild Plants

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Bladder campion (silene vulgaris) isn’t named after medicinal usage for the bladder. It’s named after the bladder shaped nectary behind its petals. Due to this shape some call it cowbell. Its absence in my foraging library is baffling, as it’s a surprisingly popular edible in the Mediterranean region that even has its own festival. You might want more cowbell.

Around Haliburton, Ontario, bladder campion (s. vulgaris) is common in rocky and sandy sites. I find it most around disturbed sites like weedy vegetable gardens, and in grassy slopes of old fields. White campion (s. pratensis), also pictured far below, is listed as fairly common in disturbed sites. I often find these two together.

The other three silene spp. around Haliburton county are called catchflies. Sleepy catchfly (s. antirrhina) is uncommon and found in sandy soil. Sleepy is the only native silene that is currently in the wilds of Ontario! Night-flowering catchfly (s. noctiflora) is uncommon on open hillsides and roadsides, again on sandy soils. And Garden catchfly (s. armeria) is uncommon on edges of woods and soil pockets on rocks. Like most herbs with “garden” in the title, in the wild it’s an escapee from cultivation.

Bladder Campion – Silene Vulgaris
Bladder Campion – Silene Vulgaris

Edible Uses of Bladder Campion

The sweet, tender young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Older leaves can use the typical blanching or boiling to remove bitterness. The taste is mild and similar to green peas. I find young milkweed pods to have a similar green pea taste. The flowers are also edible raw and if picked in the morning may still contain an edible nectar.

White campion – Silene Pratensis

Many Mediterranean dishes are prepared with bladder campion. A couple local names for this herb or vegetable are collejas and stridolo. In Italy, there’s even a festival dedicated to this edible plant.

Medicinal Uses of Bladder Campion

Bladder campion is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Integumentary

Medicinal tags include Emetic and Emollient. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes as an emollient skin or eye wash.

Alternative Uses of Stridolo

The root has saponins and thus can be used for a sudsy soap, similar to soapwort. Quite a few herbs and even some beans have saponins.

Bladder Campion – Silene Vulgaris
Bladder Campion – Silene Vulgaris

Growing Silene Vulgaris

Finding seeds for the native sleepy catchfly (s. antirrhina) seems like a long shot! While I don’t have this post labelled native, because bladder campion isn’t and is our focus, there are a couple more popular silene spp. that are native or near native. Fire pink (silene virginica) was once native to Ontario; perhaps feel free to bring it back, but be aware it’s short lived and needs to be divided. Then there is a near native, royal catchfly (silene regia) that may also be considered. Both are more colourful catchflies with wildlife value. You may find them at Prairie Nursery.

As a garden vegetable you could let your common bladder campion grow or grow it yourself. Moist sandy or loamy soil with full sun will make it perform best.


Consume in moderation due to the saponins.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

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An informative read with more growing instructions can be found here:


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1 thought on “Bladder Campion – Silene Vulgaris: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Pea Greens of Wild Plants”

  1. Thank-you! This is the first positive review of this plant that I’ve found. All others consider it a weed & should be removed. I’m going to try a couple of the flower pods in the a.m. & see if there is still nectar. Otherwise, it gets to stay as a night-bloomer that attracts moths.


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