Centaurea is a genus of between 350 and 600 species of herbaceous thistle-like flowering plants in the family Asteraceae.
Knapweeds are robust weedy plants. Their leaves, spiny in some species, are usually deeply divided into elongated lobes at least in the plants’ lower part, becoming entire towards the top. The “flowers” (actually pseudanthium inflorescences) are diverse in colour, ranging from intense blues, reds and yellows to any mixture of these and lighter shades towards white. Often, the disk flowers are much darker or lighter than the ray flowers, which also differ in morphology and are sterile. Each pseudanthium sits atop a cup- or basket-like cluster of scaly bracts, hence the name “basketflowers”. Many species, in particular those inhabiting more arid regions, have a long and strong taproot.