Lesser Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)
Of all meadow flowers, Lesser or Common knapweed, Centaurea nigra is probably the best in terms of its wildlife value. It attracts hoverflies, honey bees and bumblebees, and is also is a favourite of many butterfly species including meadow brown, ringlet and small tortoiseshell which all feed from its nectar. Common knapweed's large edible seeds make it just about the perfect all-round long lived meadow plant. The stiff stems provide support for other more lax species such as the bedstraws, and in wet weather it prevents the damp grasses from flattening, helping to keep a meadow looking good.
Common knapweed flowers are a reddish purple and appear from early summer right through to September when the seeds are actively sought out by flocks or 'charms' of goldfinches making it a very important food source for the young juvenile birds. In addition, the many tiny insects Common knapweed attracts encourage other bird species such as robins, warblers and wrens.
Lesser knapweed is distinct from Centaurea scabiosa - Greater Knapweed - which prefers taller swards on calcareous soils.
Supplier : British Wildflower Plants / Emorsgate
Our knapweed plants and seeds have guaranteed UK provenance and are supplied by signatories to the Flora Locale code of practice.
We donate half of our profit on sales of Knapweed to Buglife