Centaurium pulchellum - Lesser Centaury

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Gentianales - Family: Gentianaceae

Lesser Centaury

Lesser Centaury is mainly a coastal wildflower but also occurs in some inland grassland and heathland sites.


At 5 to 8mm across, the short-stalked flowers of Centaurium pulchellum are very much smaller than those of other Centaurium species found in Britain. The flowers, which are borne in small clusters, have five deep pink petal-like lobes. Unlike its larger relative Common Centaury, Lesser Centaury does not have a basal leaf rosette; its stem leaves, borne in opposite pairs up the stems, are narrowly ovate. Plants typically grow to a height of 8 to 15cm.


In Great Britain Lesser Centaury is most widely distributed around the coasts of southern England and Wales. This species also occurs in many mainland Europe countries including France and parts of Scandinavia.

Flowering Times

Lesser Centaury can be seen in bloom between June and September in southern Britain but much earlier further south in Europe.

Lesser Centaury, flower raceme


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Betty and Tony Rackham.

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