West Highland Flora

Common Centaury

Centaurium erythraea


Photo Carl Farmer
(16 Sep 2005 Rotherham)
Flower c 13 mm diameter

Occasional in the south of the area, very rare north of Lochalsh (except in the Western Isles).  In dry ground usually near the sea.

Plants c 5-25 cm high.  Flower diameter c 9-15 mm

ID: Flower has 5 pink petals at the end of a long tube, which is surrounded by a calyx divided more than halfway into 5 long narrow teeth; 5 stamens with conspicuous anthers; leaves opposite, unstalked; stems and leaves hairless.  Told from the rare Seaside Centaury (C littorale) by the leaves having 5 veins and rounded sides.  C littorale has 1-veined leaves, more than 4 times as long as broad, with near-parallel sides.

Other features: Flowers bunched together in tight heads, but dwarf specimens with few flowers often found.  Stems ribbed.  Leaves in a basal rosette as well as up stem, 3-veined.  Anthers twist spirally after opening to release pollen.

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