A-Z of Plants
Also known as ‘Mountain Cornflower’ this species of Centaurea is native to mountainous and woodland areas of Europe. Centaurea montana spreads quite naturally and readily escapes gardens so is now fairly widespread across the UK.
The name Centaurea comes from Greek mythology where the Centaur Chiron was said to heal a festering wound with the flowers of this plant. ‘Montana’ can be translated to ‘of the mountains’ which relates to the habitat of the plant. Though seldom used as a medicinal plant in modern herbalism, Centaurea montana has a reputation in certain areas of Europe as a wash for tired eyes, in particular blue eyes.
Centaurea montana produces violet-blue, spidery flowers with a reddish centre which appear from April to July. These are carried on stiff stems above a clump of grey-green foliage with lance-shaped, hairy leaves.They prefer a sunny spot but will tolerate light shade and thrive in most types of soils and climate regions.
They produce high levels of nectar so are great for attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators. They are a fantastic feature in beds, borders and rock gardens and make fantastic ground cover. They also look great when used as a cut flower.