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Dianthus carthusianorum was named to commemorate the monks of the Carthusian order, founded in the 11th century in the Chartreuse Valley in the French Alps.

Dianthus carthusianorum (Carthusian pink)

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
Carthusian pink is an elegant, hardy, small-flowered Dianthus named in honour of the Carthusian order of monks.

Dianthus carthusianorum was named to commemorate the monks of the Carthusian order, founded in the 11th century in the Chartreuse Valley in the French Alps.

Carthusian pink is occasionally found in Britain as a garden escape, but the exact date of introduction to the British Isles is unknown. It is possible that it was introduced to Britain by the Carthusians themselves, when they arrived there in about 1180, having been granted land in Somerset by Henry II.

A notable feature of Carthusian foundations was that each monk had their own walled garden. At one point there were 11 Carthusian monasteries in Britain, but in the Reformation these were all closed and the communities disbanded. Therefore, if the plant was introduced by the monks, it must have occurred before 1536, and was probably the plant recorded by Gerard in 1597 as 'single red sewt Johns', before the return of the Carthusian order to Britain in 1873. Carthusian monks traditionally used the plant to treat muscle pain and rheumatism.

Nowadays, Carthusian pink and the closely related Dianthus giganteus are grown by those who appreciate their understated elegance. 

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Common throughout Europe, occurring naturally from Spain and France (but not Britain) east to Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine, and south to Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Description

Overview: A perennial, up to 60 cm tall, with narrow, grass-like leaves and dense heads of flowers.

Flowers: The individual flowers have magenta, purple or pink (occasionally white), toothed petals, and a narrow, tube-shaped calyx. The flowers, which are only lightly scented, are borne in flat-headed clusters on slender, upright stems throughout the summer.

Pollination is carried out by butterflies (those with probosces long enough to reach the nectar at the base of the narrow, tube-shaped calyx).

Threats and conservation

Carthusian pink is common in the wild throughout much of Central Europe, but is considered to be rare in some parts of its range (eg in Bulgaria). A study carried out on a large population of Dianthus carthusianorum in the Rhône Valley in the Swiss Alps concluded that persistence of this population was at risk because its pollination was dependent on two vulnerable butterfly species (the great sooty satyr Satyrus ferula and the marbled white Melanargia galathea ).

A form of the Carthusian pink, restricted to the Hrubý Jeseník Mountains in the Czech Republic, is recognised as being a distinct subspecies ( Dianthus carthusianorum subsp. sudeticus ), and was listed as threatened by the Council of Europe in 1993.

Uses

Carthusian pink is cultivated as an ornamental. 

Some forms of Carthusian pink can tolerate soils containing heavy metals, such as lead and zinc, and are therefore useful for re-vegetating polluted areas. 

Carthusian monks traditionally used the plant to treat muscle pain and rheumatism.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in Kew's seed bank vault at Wakehurst.

Collections of  Dianthus carthusianorum  seeds are held in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

See Kew's Seed Information Database for further information on Dianthus carthusianorum seeds

Cultivation

Carthusian pink will do well in any well-drained soil in full sun. It is particularly suited to growing in sunny borders.

This species at Kew

Carthusian pink can be seen growing in the Rock Garden and the Queen's Garden (behind Kew Palace) at Kew.

Pressed and dried specimens of Dianthus carthusianorum are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. The details of some of these specimens can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

Distribution
France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, Turkey
Ecology
Rocky slopes.
Conservation
Not considered to be threatened, but rare in parts of its range.
Hazards

None known.

[KSP]
Use
Ornamental, traditional medicine.

Native to:

Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Sicilia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia

Extinct in:

Netherlands

Introduced into:

Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Sweden, Turkey, Wisconsin

English
Carthusian pink

Dianthus carthusianorum L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Jun 29, 2005 coll. ign. [s.n.], Portugal K000351348
May 23, 2005 Debus [s.n.], Germany K000351349

First published in Sp. Pl.: 409 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Delipavlov, D. & Cheshmedzhiev, I. (eds.) (2011). Opredelitel na rasteniiata v Bulgariia: 1-590. Akad. Isd. Agrar. Univers. Plovdiv.
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2005). Flora of North America North of Mexico 5: 1-656. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
  • Govaerts, R. (2000). World Checklist of Seed Plants Database in ACCESS D: 1-30141.
  • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1993). Flora Europaea ed. 2, 1: 1-581. Cambridge University Press.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • Baranowska-Morek, A. & Wierzbicka, M. (2004). Localization of lead in root tip of Dianthus carthusianorum. Acta Biol. Cracov. Bot. 46: 45-56.
  • Bloch, D., Werdenberg, N. & Erhardt, A. (2006). Pollination crisis in the butterfly-pollinated wild carnation Dianthus carthusianorum? New Phytologist 169(4): 699-706.
  • Corrie, T. & Fleming, M. (2006). The Carthusian Monastic Order.
  • Klaudisova, A. (1993). Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Threatened Plant Species in the Czech Republic. Council of Europe, Strasbourg.
  • Peev, D. et al. (1998). Biodiversity of vascular plants in Bulgaria. In: Bulgaria's Biological Diversity: Conservation Status and Needs Assessment, ed. C. Meine. Prepared for Conserving Biological Diversity in Bulgaria: The National Biological Diversity Conservation Strategy developed by the Government and People of the Republic of Bulgaria, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Biodiversity Support Program.
  • The Plant List, Version 1 (2010). Dianthus carthusianorum. (Accessed 21 February 2011).

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Delipavlov, D. & Cheshmedzhiev, I. (eds.) (2011). Opredelitel na rasteniiata v Bulgariia: 1-590. Akad. Isd. Agrar. Univers. Plovdiv.

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0