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Common KNAPWEED : Centaurea nigra

Also see THISTLE : index.asp?pageid=731666

You have most likely seen this striking plant and mistaken it for a thistle. But a thistle it is not. 

This is a common knapweed, almost a fake thistle. it looks so much like one, but something gives it away. It has no prickles.

Our examples were found along the Leven towpath; their bright purple flowers opening right on cue - in mid-June. The bright pink-purple 'flowers' of common kanpweed are actually composite flower heads made up of many small 'florets' (tiny flowers), surrounded by a crown of long, ragged, pink bracts (leaf-like structures).

Now look at the leafs. They have no prickles like the true thistle, but are elongated and somewhat furry.

Wiki tells us : It is native to Europe but it is known on other continents as an introduced species and often a noxious weed.

Although the plant is often unwanted by landowners because it is considered a weed by many, it provides a great deal of nectar for pollinators. It was rated in the top five for most nectar production (nectar per unit cover per year) in a UK plants survey. It also placed second as a producer of nectar sugar per floral unit, among the meadow perennials, in another study in Britain.

Knapweed looks very much like a thistle.

But look more closely at the leafs.

A hardworking bumble bee attends to a knapweed flower.

The "hundred steps" walk up from Renton to Carman Reservoir is quite a sight in August.

WIKIPEDIA : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurea_nigra

WILDLIFE TRUSTS : https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/wildflowers/common-knapweed


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