Centaury (common) Centaurium erythraea

‘Pale chlora shalt thou find,         Sun loving centaury...’ - Robert Bridges, ‘The Idle Flowers’

Description

A pretty sugary pink wildflower, with each plant holding a mass of flowers, up to fifty on one plant.

How to spot it

Common Centaury has small, pink, five-petalled flowers held in clusters at the top of the stems. It has a rosette of oval leaves at the base of the stem, and in opposite pairs up the stem.

Where it grows

Centaury can be found in a wide range of habitats including chalk and limestone grassland, heathland, woodland rides and open scrub, dune grassland, clifftops, quarries, spoil-heaps and road verges.

Best time to see

In flower from May to September

Cultural info

In the Language of Flowers centaury stands for delicacy and felicity.

How's it doing?

Continues to be widespread. 

3 things you might not know

  • It is named after the centaur Chiron, who, according to legend, discovered its healing power and used it to cure himself from the effects of a poisoned arrow.
  • The plant is a natural meteorologist as it closes with an overcast sky or in damp weather.
  • It was one of the 15 magical herbs respected in witchcraft, and was used in exorcisms.