Common Centaury - Centaurium erythraea - Western Isles Pink Wildflowers

Common Centaury - Western Isles Wildflowers

Common Centaury - Pink Wildflowers
These pretty pink wildflowers can be seen in The Western Isles. With five petals and a yellow centre open in the sunshine throughout June to September.

They are a type of gentian - It grows from a small basal rosette - most beautiful hebridean wild flowers.

These tiny pretty pink almost lavender colour starlike wildflowers which are only about a centimetre across are to be found in The Western Isles on dryish ground often near to the sea.


Species of Centaury Can Differ
These wildflower species can differ being dependant upon conditions where they are to be found. Common centaury grows in a range of grasslands. You can see it on heaths or in open woodland, scrubs and even at the side of the roads or footpaths and tracks. It is a biennial herb native to Europe and Great Britain.

Dwarf specimens with few flowers are often found. The specimen on this page was actually very tiny, it was seen on the moorland tops right near the Borve beach - at the top where the Macleods stone is. and it was a wonder that I hadn't stood on it, that would have been a shame.

Flowers Open During Daylight
These tiny pretty pink wildflowers only open when the weather is bright and never after midday and like other members of the gentian family the flowers close up in late afternoon.

The flowers can vary in colour and are sometimes even a really deep red colour. These flowers are a species from the Gentianaceae family.

The plant grows from a small basal rosette The pretty pink flowers are bunched together in tight heads The flowers have distinct yellow anthers or stamens at their centre.

The flowers have five petals at the end of a long tube. There are 5 stamens with conspicuous anthers

Flowers - Hermaphrodite
The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).

The flowers are pollinated by bees, flies and beetles.

Flowers Anthers Coil
Once the anthers have parted with their pollen they coil in an almost strange way.

The stamens protrude from the corolla tube, anthers and come to life twisting spirally after the release of pollen.

The Twisting Spiral Anthers differ from other Gentians
Whilst this wildflower the common centaury and the gentians are very similar and closely related, the form that the anthers take once having lost the pollen make them distinct from the gentians.

The Fruit is a Capsule With Seeds
The fruit is a cylindrical capsule about 1 cm in length and 1 mm thick.

The capsule opens in two halves. The seeds are less than half a millimetre long and thin. The seeds ripen between August and October

Common Names
This wildflower has been over time given many common names, common centaury and European centaury, Centaury, Century, lesser centaury, Feverwort, common centaury, Bitter herb and bitterwort, the latter named such as the herb has a very "bitter" taste.

Common Centaury - Isle of Harris Wildflowers
Click pictures below for larger photographs


Centauruim From Latin
Centaurium comes from the Latin Centaurus, referring to the myth that its medicinal properties were discovered by the legendary Centaur in Greek mythology named Chiron.

Chiron was believed to have been an expert in herbal medicines.

The term erythrae too has been drawn from the Greek word denoting red and refers

to the red coloured flowers of the herb


Common Centaury - Hebrides Flowers
Common Centaury Leaves
The common centaury has a basal rosette of egg-shaped leaves, sometimes lying in pairs up the stem as can be seen in the photograph to the right.

The leaves are triangular and are arranged oppositely on the hairless stem. The leaves at the base of the stem are quite large, however, the leaves growing on the stem are smaller. the leaves are a pale green and are lance-shaped and structured in pairs at regular spaces

Centaury Wildflowers for Good Luck
The early Celts believed that this plant would bring you good luck.

Centaury - The Herb with Many Uses
Herbal Medical Practitioners used to use the plant to assist in curing snakebites. It was used to ward away "evil" spirits in the Middle Ages

Centaury possesses antiseptic Properties
This plant provides antiseptic properties and as such has been used for the treatment of anorexia, infact any condition that requires the digestive juices to be stimulated or where sluggish digestion problems are occurring.

William Wordsworth's tomb has these flowers etched on it.

Centaury flowers are etched on the tomb of the well know and much loved English poet William Wordsworth, who was an admirer of nature. It wasn't only daffodils that he loved, but these tiny wildflowers also.

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