Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese-cross,burning love, dusky salmon, flower of Bristol, Jerusalem cross,nonesuch; syn. Silene chalcedonica) is a species of flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to central and eastern Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northwestern China.
Growing 35-100 cm (14-39 in) tall with unbranched stems, it is an herbaceous perennial. The leaves are produced in opposite pairs, simple broad lanceolate, 2-12 cm (1-5 in) long and 1-5 cm broad. The flowers are produced in clusters of 10-50 together; each flower is bright red, 1-3 cm in diameter, with a deeply five-lobed corolla, each lobe being further split into two smaller lobes. This forms a general shape similar to that of the Maltese cross to which it owes one of its common names. The fruit is a dry capsule containing numerous seeds.
The specific epithet chalcedonica refers to the ancient town of Chalcedon in what is now Turkey.
Numerous common names are attached to this plant, including:-
L. chalcedonica was voted the county flower of Bristol in a 2002 following a poll by the wild flora conservation charity Plantlife.
Lychnis chalcedonica is a popular ornamental plant in gardens. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. Numerous cultivars have been selected, varying in flower colour from bright red to orange-red, pink or white. It grows best in partial to full sun and in any good well-drained soil, if provided with a constant moisture supply. The flowering period is extended if faded flowers are removed. It is short-lived in poorly drained soil. Double flowered cultivars are propagated by division.
The species can become naturalised or even invasive if plants are allowed to set seed; it is naturalised in some parts of North America. Thomas Jefferson is known to have sowed this plant at Monticello in 1807.