Herbs & Plants

Centaurea nigra

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

Common Names:Lesser Knapweed, Common Knapweed and Black Knapweed. A local vernacular name is Hardheads.

Habitat:Centaurea nigra  is native to western Europe, including Britain, from Spain to Norway, east to Germany and Switzerland. It grows in grassland, waysides, cliffs etc to 600 metres.

Centaurea nigra is a perennial herb growing up to about a metre in height.

The leaves are up to 25 centimetres long, usually deeply lobed, and hairy. The lower leaves are stalked, whilst the upper ones are stalkless.

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The inflorescence contains a few flower heads, each a hemisphere of black or brown bristly phyllaries. The head bears many small bright purple flowers. The fruit is a tan, hairy achene 2 or 3 millimetres long, sometimes with a tiny, dark pappus. Flowers July until September.

Flowers sometimes are yellow, or white.Important for Gatekeeper butterfly, Goldfinch, Honey bee, Large skipper, Lime-speck pug moth, Meadow Brown, Painted lady, Peacock, Red admiral, Small copper, Small skipper

Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils. Established plants are tolerant of considerable neglect, thriving and even self-sowing in dense weed growth. 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. Division in autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring. This should be done at least once every three years in order to maintain the vigour of the plant. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
Edible Uses: Flower petals are eaten raw. Added to salads

Medicinal Uses:

The roots and seeds are diaphoretic, diuretic, tonic and vulnerary. The plant once had a very high reputation as a healer of wounds. A medieval wound salve.  Used to soothe sore throats and bleeding gums.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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