Native throughout most of eastern North America, fire pink (Silene virginica, Caryophyllaceae) can be found in a variety of habitats. Healthy woodlands, savannas, meadows, and rocky slopes most often host this widespread but relatively uncommon plant. It’s rare near the edge of its range and is listed as an endangered species in Wisconsin and Florida and a threatened species in Michigan.
Fire pink is most notable for the brilliant red flowers that appear from April through August. The five long, notched petals emerge from a long narrow tube and their spread can reach nearly two inches (5 cm) in diameter. The thin stems are covered in sticky hairs that may serve to prevent ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from climbing to the flowers and stealing nectar. Pollination is performed mainly by Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Apodiformes: Trochilidae: Archilochus colubris) who use their long beaks to sip nectar from deep inside the flowers.