common name for some members of the Caryophyllaceae, a family of small herbs found chiefly in north temperate zones (especially the Mediterranean area) but with several genera indigenous to south temperate zones and high altitudes of tropical mountains. Plants of this family typically have stems that are swollen at the nodes and notched, or "pinked," petals ranging in color from white to pink, red, and purple. The family includes several ornamentals and many wildflowers and weeds, many of them European species now widely naturalized elsewhere.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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