Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Centaurium erythraea - Common centaury

Family: Gentianaceae - Gentian [E-flora]

"Centaurium erythraea is a ANNUAL/BIENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in). It is in flower from June to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October.
The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles. The plant is self-fertile. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil." [PFAF]

"General: Biennial herb from a short taproot; stems erect, many, simple to branched near the base, 10-50 cm tall." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Leaves: Basal leaves forming a tuft, egg-shaped to oblanceolate, unstalked, 1.5-4 cm long, rounded at the tip, 3- to 5-veined; lower stem leaves similar to basal; upper stem leaves reduced, narrower, becoming more pointed at the tip." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat/Range: Mesic to dry roadsides, fields and waste places in the lowland zone; frequent in SW and SE BC (Kootenay Lake); introduced from Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

Status: Exotic [E-flora]


"May cause mild abdominal discomfort and cramps. Contraindicated in patients with peptic ulcers. Safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established [301]." [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

Cultivation & Propagation

"Prefers a well-drained sandy loam with some peat[1] and a sunny position[238]. It avoids wet or rich soils[115]. Plants are not easy to grow in a garden[4]. The flowers only open in fine weather and close at midday[4]. Although the growing plant is scentless, if the cut stems are immersed in warm water for 24 hours a most penetrating odour will be observed on distillation[245]. A very variable plant, some botanists divide it into a number of separate species[4]." [PFAF]

"Seed - sow February to May in situ or as soon as it is ripe in situ[17]. Germination is usually rapid." [PFAF]



Centaurium Sp. - Centaury

"Annual, biennial, glabrous. Stem: erect, branched or simple below inflorescence. Leaf: cauline, opposite, also basal or not. Inflorescence: cyme. Flower: parts generally in 5s; calyx lobes >> tube (discounting thin membrane between lobes in Centaurium tenuiflorum), ± appressed to corolla tube; corolla salverform, generally pink, lobes < tube, elliptic-oblong, entire or minutely toothed at tip, scales 0, nectary pits 0 (nectaries elsewhere 0); stamens initially curved to 1 side, dehisced anthers spirally twisted; ovary sessile, style thread-like (much wider than filaments), cleft 0.5–1 mm, deciduous, stigmas 2, elliptic to ovate.
± 15 species: temperate, dry-mesic tropics, ± Eurasia, northern Africa, Mexico. (Latin: centaur, mythological discoverer of plants medicinal properties) Native species moved to Zeltnera." [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Centaurium erythraea - Common centaury [E-flora]
  2. Centaurium muehlenbergii - Muhlenberg's centaury (Moved to Zeltnera) [E-flora]

Zeltnera muehlenbergii - Muhlenberg's centaury

Red-Listed [E-flora]

"General: Annual herb from a short taproot; stems solitary, simple or branched, 3-30 cm tall." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Leaves: Basal leaves forming a conspicuous rosette, egg-shaped, 5-25 mm long, rounded at the tip; stem leaves narrower and abruptly pointed." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Habitat / Range Moist meadows in the lowland zone; rare in SW BC, known only from SE Vancouver Island and Chatham Island; S to NV and CA." [IFBC-E-flora]

Status: Native [E-flora]



Page last modified on Thursday, March 25, 2021 1:43 AM