Centaurea melitensis: Plant with a very different appearance

Seen from very close, the centaurea melitensis It is a plant with a somewhat striking and peculiar appearance in its flowers. But in itself it is a species that is at high risk for other plants growing around itas it is considered a weed.

Although it is true that some caregivers, botanists, gardeners and amateurs have this plant in their gardens to have a greater variety of species or simply to improve the view of the place, you have to know what you are dealing with. So today we will talk about this curious plant that has a huge potential to change the ecosystem of a place too easily.

General data of the centaurea melitensis

bush full of small flowers

It is known by various common names such as the fist opener, hand opener, arzolla, scarola thistle, lesser centaury and more. It is worth mentioning that its name varies according to the region and / or country in which the plant is located.

Now, the origin of this plant is located in the Mediterranean, specifically in the countries Greece and Tunisia. However, today it can be found very easily in European and American countries due to its great ease of invading lands.

So among the countries where this small plant is most often seen are:

  1. The United States.
  2. New Zealand.
  3. Much of South America.
  4. Australia.
  5. Spain.

As you can see its extension is quite wide and if it is not taken seriously, its expansion will continue to cover a large part of the global territory. On the other hand, as such it does not have a too large and ostentatious design, much less striking. What is most striking are its yellow flowers that possess a terrifying shape if you look at them closely.

As a curious fact about this plant in relation to its ability to invade new areas, you have to know that this is possible in various ways. The common is that plants like these disperse by the dragging of the wind. But the intriguing thing is that can reach new places traveling in the skin of animals and in the water, until settling on firm ground and even by human activity.

High-ranking invasive plant

Before going to the section on the characteristics of the plant, you have to know that this species is considered an invasive exotic plant. This means that it is a non-native plant of the place they are invading and that it is outside its natural habitat.

However, it is not all, since these plants have the ability to survive in totally new environments and reproduce normally. And even though some it may seem like a characteristic worthy of admirationThey are plants that can affect the growth of other species and the biodiversity of the place where they have flourished.

So much so that it is thought that centaurea melitensis has managed to reach Mexico and that in some cases, it has become a pest problem for plantations and natural spaces.


person with two flowers of the plant Centaurea melitensis

At this point we are going to be very punctual with characteristics of the centaurea melitensis. Some of the most prominent are:

  • It is an annual herb that can grow to over 80 centimeters tall.
  • They have stems that if they are completely straight, reach a height of 65 cm and these are forked right in the middle of the top.
  • Has sheets whose standard measurements are 100 × 20 mm and they have a grayish-green appearance.
  • Its heads are very radiant and have flowers with hermaphrodite characteristics.
  • The flowers are yellow on its petals, while the lower part of it is a kind of green cocoon with thorns or spikes.

Now, although it is considered a highly invasive speciesnow we will explain to you what are the needs that this plant requires to be able to live and prosper in a certain place.

Cultivation and care

The development of this plant occurs most frequently in soils or substrates whose pH value tends to be acidic. Although it can also grow very easily in soils with neutral and alkaline pH.

This offers you the feature and potential of be able to adapt and grow in areas where the soil lacks nutrients which are vital to other plants. Likewise, it has an underground part whose growth is faster when the texture of the ground is sandy, clayey or loamy.

Depending on the amount of water that is provided from time to time, can live or die. But as such, the plant requires moisture to grow. However, when they have settled on the ground, they can easily withstand droughts.

Although there are other factors that give the plant the opportunity to grow, such as the time of year it is plantedthe temperature of the environment and the earth, as well as if it is faced with constant exposure to the sun and other factors.

Curiously does not support flooding very well. So the latter can be an effective and practical method when it comes to eliminating the centaurea melitensis of the gardens. The good news for those who do not wish to have this species in their orchards or gardens is that can’t stand shadows at all. These have to be placed directly under constant sun exposure.

Plagues and diseases

Centaurea melitensis with yellow flowers

The plant itself can be considered a pest for other speciessince its growth or mere existence near other plants implies that these will not be able to have the necessary nutrients for their growth. Now, if what you are wondering is if you suffer from pests or diseases, as of today this information is unknown.

Uses of the plant

Finally, surprisingly, this plant has some medicinal uses that you can use on someone who suffers from high blood sugar or having problems with cholesterol. The ideal way to do it is through infusions or juice of leaves and flowers. Although most of the time mostly the flowers are used to make the preparation.

However, it is not a preparation that can be done whenever you want, since its preparation is only possible during the end of spring. As final data, it has an additional use and is the cleanse the liver.

Centaurea melitensis: Plant with a very different appearance

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