Centaurium erythraea is a species of flowering plant in the gentian family known by the common names common centaury and European centaury. This centaury is a widespread plant of Europe and parts of western Asia and northern Africa. It has also naturalised in parts of North America and throughout eastern Australia, where it is an introduced species. This is an erect biennial herb which reaches half a meter in height. It grows from a small basal rosette and bolts a leafy, erect stem which may branch. The triangular leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem and the erect inflorescences emerge from the stem and grow parallel to it, sometimes tangling with the foliage. Each inflorescence may contain many flowers. The petite flower is pinkish-lavender and about a centimeter across, flat-faced with yellow anthers. The fruit is a cylindrical capsule.
It flowers from June until September.
The European centaury is used as a medical herb in many parts of Europe.The herb, mainly prepared as tea, is thought to possess medical properties beneficial for patients with gastric and liver diseases.It is also a powerful antioxidant. The active ingredients of the centaury are mainly phenolic acids as ferulic and sinapic acids.The plant also contains amounts of sterols as brassicasterol and stigmasterol.
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