MeadowMat flower power - learn about wild flower species

common knapweed, Centaura nigra.  late august
Common Knapweed

I took this photo in Thetford Forest in late august but I've been spotting knapweed in flower throughout the summer.  It's a magnet for bees and seems to be popular with butterflies too.

Its scientific name, Centaura nigra probably comes from greek mythology in which the centaur (half man, half horse) Chiron was said to have used the plant for its healing powers.  The plants were once used as a poultice on wounds and produce a yellow colour when used to dye fabric.

Knapweed is a perennial plant - in other words the plant lives more more than two years - and it reproduces by seeds.  If the plants are left uncut at the end of summer, the seeds will provide a winter food source for birds.