Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Gentianales - Family: Gentianaceae
This lovely and very rare member of the Gentian family grows in just two coastal grassland sites in Britain.
The stalked flowers of Centaurium scilloides (syn. Centaurium portense) are 15 to 20mm across (significantly larger than the flowers of Common Centaury) and have five bright-yellow anthers. Flowers are borne either singly or in clusters of just a few flowers on upright stems. While roundish lower leaves on the creeping stems are stalked, narrower unstalked leaves occur in opposite pairs along the ascending stems. Plants typically grow to between 10 and 25cm tall.
In Great Britain Perennial Centaury grows at one site in southern England - Gwennap Head in Cornwall - and in coastal grassland near Newport in Pembrokeshire National Park, Wales. On mainland Europe this species is more common, most notably on the western coasts of France, Spain and Portugal. Perennial Centaury is also native to the Azores and to some parts of Asia.
Perennial Centaury can be seen in bloom during July and August in southern Britain but much earlier further south in Europe.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Betty and Tony Rackham.
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