Centaurea

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 kotschyana

Centaurea kotschyana

Centaurea kotschyana

Centaurea pseudophrygia

Centaurea pseudophrygia

Centaurea pseudophrygia

Centaurea triumfettii ssp. stricta

Centaurea triumfettii ssp. stricta

Centaurea triumfettii ssp. stricta

And how about the yellow-flowered Centaurea? Here is the rare yellow form of C. kotschyana:

Centaurea kotschyana yellow form

Centaurea kotschyana yellow form

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.

Centaurea drabifolia

Centaurea drabifolia

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.

8 replies
  1. Julie
    Julie says:

    You have convinced me, other then a few native Centaurea Scabiosa I do not grow any other Centaurea, on close inspection they are beautiful flowers, stouts stems, long lasting, seed heads look lovely too and as you say really good for wildlife. The yellow forms were a surprise to see, both lovely but I especially like Centaurea kotschyana.

  2. mrsdaffodil
    mrsdaffodil says:

    Before our move, when we lived on two acres carved out of the woods, there were a lot of Centaurea montana plants growing and spreading seeds. I only knew about Bachelor’s buttons before that.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Bachelor’s buttons is usually what comes to mind when saying Centaurea. C. montana is also beautiful and flowers for an extended period, so if nothing else…

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thanks for stopping by. In full sun locations they can be grown here with no problem. The hard thing is only to choose between them if the space if limited ;)

Comments are closed.