Centaurea melitensis

Botanical Name :Centaurea melitensis
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Centaurea
Species:C. melitensis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Maltese star-thistle in Europe, Tocalote or Tocolote

Habitat: Centaurea melitensis is native to Mediterranean region, eastwards to Greece and Tunisia.  It grows on wasteplaces and roadsides.
Description:
Centaurea melitensis is an erect winter annual with a spiny, yellow-flowered head that typically reaches 1 m tall. The stems are stiff and openly branched from near or above the base or sometimes not branched in very small plants. Stem leaves are alternate, and mostly linear or narrowly oblong to oblanceolate. Margins are smooth, toothed, or wavy, and leaf bases extend down the stems (decurrent) and give stems a winged appearance. Rosette leaves typically are withered by flowering time.

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It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Cultivation:
We do not have information on this species, but the following notes are based on the closely related C. solstitialis. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils. A good bee and butterfly plant the flowers are rich in nectar. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow April in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown in situ in the spring, and an autumn swing in situ might also be worth trying.

Medicinal Uses: The plant is used in the treatment of the kidneys.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurea_melitensis
http://texasinvasives.org/plant_database/detail.php?symbol=CEME2
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Centaurea+melitensis

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