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Centaurea montana (perennial cornflower)

A low-growing perennial with beautiful, large, blue flowerheads, perennial cornflower is native to central and southern Europe.
Detail of an illustration of Centaurea montana

Detail of an illustration of Centaurea montana

Species information

Scientific name: 

Centaurea montana L.

Common name: 

perennial cornflower, mountain blue, perennial bachelor’s button, mountain cornflower

Conservation status: 

Not threatened.


Subalpine meadows and open woods.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Centaurea

About this species

This low-growing perennial is widespread across much of central and southern Europe, and although not native to Britain is now naturalised in many parts of the British Isles. Centaurea montana has been grown in English gardens for centuries, and is a useful, if somewhat untidy, addition to a herbaceous border. It was probably introduced to Britain from elsewhere in Europe at some point during the 16th century.

The herbalist John Gerard certainly had it in his garden, and described ‘the great Blew-Bottle’ in his herbal of 1597, although he admitted that ‘the faculties of these floures are not sufficiently known’, implying, perhaps, that he had not grown it for long. In 1790, William Curtis, writing in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, still called this the ‘Greater Blue-Bottle’, a plant that ‘will grow in any soil or situation, some will think too readily’.


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