Centaurea scabiosa

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Centaurea scabiosa
Centaurea scabiosa.jpg
Scientific classification
C. scabiosa
Binomial name
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.

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.

This species is very valuable to bees. It is also a magnet for many species of butterfly. Among them is the marbled white.

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.

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.[1]


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.[2][3]


Dry grassland, roadsides and calcareous substrate.[3]


Found in Great Britain and Ireland.[3]



  1. ^ Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne & Co. pp. 385–387. ISBN 0-7232-2419-6.
  2. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora Cork University Press.ISBN 978-185918-4783
  3. ^ a b c Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968 Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University PressISBN 0-521-04656-4
  • The Wild Flower Key British Isles-N.W. Europe by Francis Rose, page 385