Centaurea nigra

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaAsteraceaeCentaureaCentaurea nigra


A perennial herb of meadows and pastures, sea-cliffs, roadsides, railway banks, scrub, woodland edges, field borders and waste ground, on a wide range of soils. 0-580 m (Cadair Idris, Merioneth) and exceptionally at 845 m on Great Dun Fell (Westmorland).



World Distribution

Suboceanic Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.

© R. Stewart, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 5

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.5

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1093

Life form information

Height (cm): 80

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2658

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 975

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 11

Atlas Change Index: -0.25

Weighted Changed Factor: -7

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (291d)
Atlas Supp (74a-c)
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Grose D
1957.  The Flora of Wiltshire.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Marsden-Jones EM, Turrill WB
1954.  British Knapweeds.
Meusel H, Jäger EJ
1992.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 3. 2 vols.
Ockendon DJ, Walters SM, Whiffen TP
1969.  Variation within Centaurea nigra L. Proceedings of the Botanical Society of the British Isles. 7:549-552.