Rose Campion vs Lambs Ear: What Are The Differences?

Written by Hannah Ward
Updated: October 13, 2022
© A-Z-Animals.com
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Rose campion and lamb’s ear are colorful perennial plants that are a stunning addition to any garden. Both are known for their bright appearance and their soft textured leaves. In fact, at first glance, it’s easy to assume that they are the same plant, but when we look closer, we actually find that they are very different. But just how different are they? Join us as we discover everything you need to know about rose campion vs lambs ear!

Comparing Lamb’s Ear vs Rose Campion

Rose campion is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family group, which is known as the pink family or carnation family.

©iStock.com/Nahhan

Lamb’s EarRose Campion
SpeciesStachys byzantinaSilene coronaria
Alternative NamesWoolly hedgenettleDusty miller, mullein-pink, bloody William
OriginArmenia, Iran, TurkeyAsia, Europe
SizeHeight – up to 3 feet
Width – 1 to 4 feet
Height – up to 3 feet
Width – 1 to 2 feet
Growth StyleLeaves form moundsUpright
LeavesWide elongated oval, woolly, velvet texture, greyish-green to silverNarrow elongated oval, approx 5 inches, soft texture, typically green
FlowersFlower spikes, pinkish-purpleRound-shaped petals, typically magenta
BloomMid-summerLate spring to early summer

The 4 Key Differences Between Rose Campion and Lamb’s Ear

The main difference between rose campion and lamb’s ear is their leaves.

Lamb’s ears have larger leaves which are a different color and shape. Their flowers also have a different appearance to those of rose campion. Other differences between the two plants include their origin, family groups, and bloom time.

Rose Campion vs Lamb’s Ear: Classification

Lamb’s ear is a Lamiaceae member, commonly called the mint, sage, or deadnettle family.

©iStock.com/Orest Lyzhechka

Although rose campion and lamb’s ear are similar, they are not actually related as they are from different family groups. Rose campion is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family group, which is known as the pink or carnation family and includes approximately 2,625 species.

Lamb’s ear is a member of the Lamiaceae, which is commonly called the mint, sage, or deadnettle family. Lamiaceae is a large family group that is comprised of approximately 7,000 species. Many of its members are culinary herbs that are widely used around the world – such as sage, basil, mint, and thyme.

Rose Campion vs Lamb’s Ear: Origin

Rose campion is common in gardens and along roadsides.

©iStock.com/Mauricio Acosta

Another major difference between these two plants is where they originate from. Rose campion is native to Asia and Europe, although it was introduced to many other countries and has since become naturalized in the United States. Rose campion is common in gardens and along roadsides.

Lamb’s ear is native to Armenia, Iran, and Turkey, and naturally grows on rocky hillsides. However, like the rose campion, it has been introduced to many other countries – including the United States.

Rose Campion vs Lamb’s Ear: Leaves

The leaves of lamb’s ear have a woolly appearance and are covered in a thick fuzz, giving it a velvety texture.

©iStock.com/Olena Lialina

The most noticeable difference between these two plants is the appearance of their leaves. Rose campions have leaves that are an elongated oval shape of approximately 5 inches long. They have a soft texture and are typically green in color.

Lamb’s ears have larger leaves than rose champions. Although they are also a somewhat elongated oval shape – much like the shape of lamb’s ears, hence their name – they are typically wider than those of rose campion. The leaves of lamb’s ear have a woolly appearance and are covered in a thick fuzz which gives it a velvety texture but also makes them appear as a greyish-green to silver color. This color is most readily used to distinguish between the two plants. Lamb’s ear typically spreads wide across the ground as it grows, creating a thick mat. Quite often, the leaves can form a thick mound shape which can be 2 to 3 feet across.

Rose Campion vs Lamb’s Ear: Flowers

Rose campion has flowers with round-shaped petals, which are usually a stunning magenta color.

©iStock.com/Taiftin

Although the flowers of both rose campion and lamb’s ear are similar, they’re actually very different. Rose campion has flowers with round-shaped petals, which are usually a stunning magenta color. However, the flowers on lamb’s ear grow on tall flower spikes. The blooms themselves are only small – especially compared to rose campion – and are usually a pinkish-purple color.

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Rose Campion vs Lambs Ear
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About the Author

I have been writing professionally for several years with a focus on animals and wildlife. I love spending time in the outdoors and when not writing I can be found on the farm surrounded by horses, dogs, sheep, and pigs.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are rose campion and lamb's ear evergreen?

Rose campion is semi-evergreen as it remains evergreen in milder climates. Lamb’s ear is not evergreen but it does hold onto its leaves until the late fall or early winter in milder climates, after which they eventually drop ready to be replaced in the spring.

Are rose campion and lamb's ear poisonous?

No, neither plant is poisonous and there have been no reports of toxic effects from either.

Is lamb's ear a herb?

Yes, lamb’s ear is a perennial herb and in some places it is eaten in salads or steamed and eaten as greens. In it’s native countries it is sometimes used as a medicinal herb to create bandages with – often during times of unrest and civil war – as it is thought that its leaves contain antiseptic properties.

Is rose campion and lamb's ear easy to grow?

Yes, both are easy plants to grow. As rose campion is only a short-lived plant it is easy to grow every year from seeds – both in garden borders and in plant pots. Lamb’s ear is also easy to grow and requires very little maintenance. It is extremely drought-resistant and thrives best in well-drained soil.

Do rose campion and lamb's ear make good houseplants?

Yes, both can be grown as houseplants, although rose campions are generally the better of the two to grow indoors. Rose campion will readily grow and thrive indoors while lamb’s ear will do best near a south-facing window so that it gets enough sunlight.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. The Spruce, Available here: https://www.thespruce.com/rose-campion-growing-guide-6256731
  2. The Spruce, Available here: https://www.thespruce.com/lambs-ears-uses-how-to-care-and-control-2132610