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Botanical Name :Centaurea Scabiosa
Species: C. scabiosa
Common Name: Greater Knapweed. (This larger species of Knapweed was in olden times called ‘Matte Felon,’ from its use in curing felons or whitlows. As early as 1440 we find it called ‘Maude Felone,’ or ‘Boltsede.’)
Habitat: Frequent in the borders of fields and in waste places, being not uncommon in England, where it is abundant on chalk soil, but rare in Scotland.
Greater Knapweed is a perennial plant, the rootstock becomes thick and woody in old plants. The stem is 1 to 3 feet high, generally branched, very tough. The leaves, which are firm in texture, are very variable in the degree of division, but generally deeply cut into, the segments again deeply notched. The lower leaves are very large, often a foot or even more in length, making a striking looking rosette on the ground, from which the flowering stems arise. The whole plant is a dull green, sparingly hairy. It flowers in July and August. The flowers are terminal, somewhat similar to those of the Cornflower in general shape, though larger. All the florets are of the same colour, a rich purplish-crimson, the outer ray ones with the limb divided nearly to the base into narrow, strap-shaped segments. The flower-head is hard and solid, a mass of bracts lapping over each other like tiles, each having a central green portion and a black fringe-like edge. In some districts the plant is called from these almost round heads, ‘Hardhead,’ and the ordinary English name, Knapweed, is based on the same idea, Knap, being a form of Knop, or Knob.
This species is very common and generally distributed in pastures, borders of fields and roadsides throughout Britain, and flowers from early June till well into September. Both species of Knapweed may readily be distinguished from Thistles by the absence of spines and prickles.
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils. Does well in the summer meadow. An important nectar plant for bees and butterflies. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Seed – sow early spring 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.
Parts Used: Root, seeds.
The roots and seeds are diaphoretic, diuretic, tonic and vulnerary. The plant once had a very high reputation as an ingredient of the Medieval ‘salve’, an ointment applied to heal wounds and treat skin infections.
It is good for catarrh, taken in decoction, and is also made into ointment for outward application for wounds and bruises, sores, etc.
Culpepper tells us: ‘it is of special use for soreness of throat, swelling of the uvula and jaws, and very good to stay bleeding at the nose and mouth.’
Greater Knapweed has been used in traditional herbal healing as either a vulnerary or an emollient.
This species is very valuable to bees. It is also a magnet for many species of butterfly. Among them is the Marbled White.
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