Centaurea scabiosa seed
Centaurea scabiosa ‘Greater Knapweed’
Asteraceae: elegant perennial of dry, calcareous grassland, growing to 1m. Stems are stiff, downy, grooved and swollen towards the base. The flowers are 3-5cm across, with reddish-purple disc florets, and a swollen base coated with brown bracts, solitary heads from June-September. The leaves are oblong and deeply pinnate. Locally common in Southern and Eastern England. Native to much of Europe, including Britain, north to 68° N., east to the Caucasus and Western Asia.
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.
Grows readily fromsown at any time of the year, but probably best sown in spring.