Centaurs – Greek mythological figures with a man’s upper body and a horse’s lower half. Supposedly, they were using the (Centaurea) flowers for healing (Centaurea scabiosa as header image)
Continuing the year of the thistle with Centaurea spp., which are not true thistles of course, but included in the big family. Actually, there are a few species with a true thistle-like look! Again, leaving the weedy ones apart, there are many worth cultivating besides the common C. nigra, C. montana and variants. ALL Centaurea species are most valuable to bees and attract countless species of butterfly, moths and other insects AND they are easy to grow from seeds!
In many cases, the involucral bracts (phyllaries) are very ornamental, a detail sometimes overlooked but which serves in species identification. Below, a few Centaurea sp. from the Carpathian Mts. (some endemic, some with a wider distribution). Bright pictures for a cloudy day!
Centaurea triumfettii ssp. stricta
And how about the yellow-flowered Centaurea? Here is the rare yellow form of C. kotschyana:
Two species in the Newly arrived Seeds category: C. salonitana and C. orientalis also have yellow flowers, but there are many other species. And I think the dwarf Centaurea drabifolia (endemic of Turkey!), seen here in the Rock garden at the Montreal Botanic Garden, can very well conclude this short post on Centaurea.
I hope I convinced at least a few to pay more attention to Centaureas. I look forward to combine in our garden, the yellow Centaurea salonitana together with Salvia pratensis in a flower bed, while the smaller Centaurea triumfettii ssp. stricta will be attracting butterflies in the rockery area ;)
You can also see the Carpathian Mts. endemic Centaurea pinnatifida here.