AppearanceThis 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.
DistributionFound in Great Britain and Ireland.
HabitatDry grassland, roadsides and calcareous substrate.
PredatorsThis 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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