Centaurea_1
Centaurea_1

Centaurea


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Though the overall effect of the entire genus on humans is probably detrimental, this is merely due to the considerable damage done by a handful of species when these are allowed to spread uncontrolled. On a per-species basis, most centaureas are inoffensive and at least pleasant-looking plants. As noted above, many species of Centaurea are popular food for insects that may otherwise attack crops; particular in small-scale farming it is often advisable to allow non-invasive species (like cornflower (C. cyanus) in Europe) to grow around fields. In such a beetle bank, they will draw pests away from crops, and at the same time by their robust structure provide shelter for invertebrate and small vertebrate predators that will keep overall pest populations low.

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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.

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