White campion (cockle)

White campion (Silene alba (Mill.) E. H. L. Krause)

Also known as White cockle

Life Cycle:

Biennial or short lived perennial. Seeds germinate primarily in the fall, but seedlings can also emerge in late spring. Plants initially form a rosette and subsequently produce erect leafy stems with flowers. Plants overwinter as a rosette. Seedlings and flowering plants are often found together in the spring.


Emerges from soil depths of 1-inch or less.


Mode(s) of Reproduction: Reproduces primarily by seed. New plants can also be formed from adventitious buds on crown-roots segments.

Production Range: Averages 367 seeds per capsule and 66 capsules per plant, total average seed production is 24,000 seeds per plant.

Dispersal Mechanisms: None.

Longevity: No information.

Dormancy: Short period of dormancy after seed dispersal, 11 to 48% of seed germinated after 1 month. 


Moderately competitive, dependent on white campion populations.

Preferred Soil/Field Conditions:

Rich, well-drained soils. White campion does not tolerate wet soils.



Predation/grazing: No information.

Decay: No information.


Tillage: Not a huge problem in tilled systems. Tillage reduces white cockle infestations by 98%. However, tillage can move root crown segments, which can produce new plants. Deep burial or drying on soil surface cause very little regenerations from roots.

Rotary Hoeing: Not effective.

Flaming: No information.

Mowing: Frequent mowing or cutting will reduce white campion infestations. 


Crop rotation: Mostly a problem in rotations that have little soil disturbance (no-till and perennial crops).

Planting date: Most likely will not affect white campion infestations.


Application timing and effectiveness: Fall herbicide applications are more effective than spring applications. Spring herbicide applications should be made prior to bolting and flowering. White campion is tolerant of 2,4-D products, so other herbicides like glyphosate should be used for control. Please refer to E-434, "MSU Weed Control Guide for Field Crops," for herbicide recommendations.

Additional Information

Can serve as an alternate host for viruses that can infect sugarbeet and spinach.