Knapweed (Common) Centaurea nigra

Also known as "Hardheads" or "Black knapweed", this wild flower is one of our toughest meadow plants.

Knapweed is a firm favourite of our pollinating insects, being a source of good quality nectar. And as well as supporting our bee, butterflies and beetles its seeds provide food for many birds.

Identification

Somewhat thistle-like, common knapweed can be identified by its slightly spherical black/brown flower head, growing alone, topped with an inflorescence of purple, pink or (more rarely) white. The bracts are triangular in shape. Its leaves are linear to lance-like in shape with incomplete lobes. Greater knapweed - a close relation - is similar but its flowers are more garish and oppulant and its leaves are fully lobed.

Distribution

Found throughout Britain.

Habitat

Knapweed is a wild flower of meadows and other grassland habitats. It can often be seen on road verges where wildlife is allowed to thrive.

Best time to see

In flower, June to September.

Did you know?

In days gone by eligible young women would put a plucked knapweed flower in their blouse. When as-yet unopened florets began to bloom it would tell her the man of her dreams was near.

More meadow wild flowers: