Brown knapweed

A perennial with dark pink flowers, sometimes taken for “thistle”, though devoid of spikes. A wonderful honey and medicinal plant, a symbol of traditionally cultivated meadows. A great pollinator canteen in town. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.

SKU: N022

7,00 28,00 

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About the species

Polish name: meadow cornflower, shot-through cornflower

Latin name: Centaurea jacea L.

Family: the asters Asteraceae (the composites Compositae), subfamily: Carduoidae

Status in Poland: native, common


perennial plant
20-100 cm


Medium to tall perennial with angular, rough-to-touch stems.

A brown knapweed produces two types of leaves:
1) basal: pinnate, elliptic or lanceolate, clustered in a rosette, with distinct petioles
2) stem leaves: entire-margined, tapering towards the base and sessile (without petioles).

Inflorescences in the form of a purple-burgundy, rarely white flower head on the top of the stem. Each head is made of disc flowers of two types:
1) marginal, barren, quite large,
2) middle, fertile, bisexual within the head, smaller than the marginal ones.

The seed is an achene typical for the asters, obovate, shiny, in contrast to the cornflower fruit completely devoid of the flight apparatus. Size approx. 3 mm.
The seeds of the orthodox type only with a TSW of 1.53 g.


Additional information


Brown knapweed (brownray knapweed) likes places quite similar to the greater knapweed, but with acidic soil. Like other knapweeds typical of fresh or periodically drying meadows, roadsides, shrubs and light forests, it grows quite well on many different types of soil, although preferably on moderately humus, clearly loamy and variable moist. Besides, same as greater knapweed,

it needs clay soil, rich in humus, with moderate humidity, and sunny location, at most in partial shade.

A great plant for sowing demanding metropolitan or post-industrial areas. Frequent on railway embankments, waste heaps or construction sites with barren, skeletal ground.

Interesting facts

The larvae of the butterfly that is dying out in Europe feed on its leaves: knapweed fritillary Melitea phoebe.

Like many other perennial knapweed species, it is highly variable, easily mutates and / or crosses with other members of the genus. Therefore, in addition to the typical forms, there are specimens with a different shape of leaves or the color of flower heads.

Brown knapweed in seed mixtures:

Use Value

Significant. Flowers attractive to insects, a great choice for bee pastures or butterfly gardens, although slightly less frequently visited than mountain cornflowers or cornflowers.

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