Greater Knapweed

Centaurea scabiosa

''Centaurea scabiosa'' or greater knapweed is a perennial plant of the genus ''Centaurea''. It is native to Europe and bears purple flower heads. This species is very valuable to bees. It is also a magnet for many species of butterfly. Among them is the marbled white.
Greater Knapweed The rarer knapweed that we have in haymeadows Centaurea scabiosa,Cumbria,Greater Knapweed

Appearance

This perennial herb grows with an erect grooved stem up to 90 cm high. The leaves are alternate, pinnatifid and with stalks. The flower heads are 5 cm across and on long stalks. The florets are red-purple.

Greater knapweed is found growing in dry grasslands, hedgerows and cliffs on lime-rich soil. Upright branched stems terminate in single thistle-like flowerheads, each having an outer ring of extended, purple-pink "ragged" bracts which form a crown around the central flowers. The plant has deeply dissected leaves which form a clump at the base.

The plant is sometimes confused with devils-bit scabious, however the leaves on this plant are arranged alternately, whereas in devils-bit they are opposite.

Distribution

Found in Great Britain and Ireland.

Habitat

Dry grassland, roadsides and calcareous substrate.

Predators

This is the only known food plant for caterpillars of the Coleophoridae case-bearer moth ''Coleophora didymella''. ''Centaurea scabiosa'' has been used in traditional herbal healing as either a vulnerary or an emollient.

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Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionAngiosperms
ClassEudicots
OrderAsterales
FamilyAsteraceae
GenusCentaurea
SpeciesC. scabiosa
Photographed in
United Kingdom