Description from Flora of China
Herbs perennial, rarely annual. Roots sometimes woody. Stems mostly caespitose, terete or angular, articulated, dilated at nodes. Leaves opposite, usually glaucescent, linear or lanceolate, veins parallel, base slightly connate, margin scabrid. Flowers solitary, several in a loose cyme, or numerous and clustered into capitula, subtended by 1--4 pairs of appressed bracts. Calyx cylindric, apically 5-toothed, veins 7, 9, or 11, without scarious commissures. Petals 5, purple, red, pink, or white; claw long; limb dentate or lacerate, rarely entire. Stamens 10. Ovary 1-loculed; ovules numerous. Gynophore long. Styles 2. Capsule cylindric, suboblong, or rarely ovoid, dehiscing by 4 teeth or valves. Seeds dorsiventrally compressed, orbicular or discoid, flat or concave; embryo erect; albumen eccentric.
Dianthus harrissii K. H. Rechinger (Pl. Syst. Evol. 142: 240. 1983), described from N Pakistan (Chitral), was recorded by Rechinger (Fl. Iran. 163: 143. 1988) from W Xizang and Kashmir. The specimens cited by Rechinger have not been seen by the present authors, and the species is therefore not described here.
The following species have not yet been recorded for China but might be expected to occur in SW Xinjiang and/or W Xizang: Dianthus angulatus Royle (Ill. Bot. Himal. Mts. 1: 79. 1835), from Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, including the W Himalayas; D. cachemiricus Edgeworth (in J. D. Hooker, Fl. Brit. India 1: 214. 1874), from E Afghanistan, Kashmir, and N Pakistan; and D. crinitus Smith (Trans. Linn. Soc. London, Bot. 2: 300. 1794), from C and SW Asia, as far E as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan.
Dianthus foliosus Turczaninow (Bull. Soc. Imp. Naturalistes Moscou 5: 184. 1832) was described from territory probably now within China (“Habitat in saxosis Mongoliae chinensis”), and D. seisuimontanus Masamune (Trans. Nat. Hist. Soc. Taiwan 31: 343. 1941) was described from Taiwan (“Mt. Seisui,” ca. 2000 m). However, the types have not been seen by the present authors and their identities could not be ascertained.
Several species are cultivated in China for their attractive flowers, including Dianthus barbatus, D. caryophyllus Linnaeus (including D. arbuscula Lindley), D. chinensis, and D. japonicus Thunberg.
About 600 species: widespread in N temperate regions, mostly in Asia and Europe and especially in the Mediterranean region, a few species in Africa and America; 16 species (two endemic) in China.
(Authors: Lu Dequan; Nicholas J. Turland)