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Seaside Centaury

Centaurium littorale

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Gentianaceae (Gentian)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
25 centimetres tall
Beaches, grassland, saltmarshes, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland.

Pink, 5 petals
Tight clusters of pink flowers. Occasionally a white flower may be seen. Similar in appearance to Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea) but is a smaller plant and the flowers are more bluish-pink. Lesser Centaury (Centaurium pulchellum) is also similar but it's petals are smaller and more slender. 5 stamens.
A 2-sectioned seed capsule.
An erect plant with stalkless, leathery, smooth and hairless, strap-shaped leaves. The leaves are parallel sided (a distinguishing feature), rather unlike other species of Centaury found in the UK. Basal and stem leaves are both present. The stem leaves are in opposite pairs up the stem. Can be found on sand dunes and on short turf at the seaside. Biennial.
Other Names:
Beach Centaury, Beach Centuary.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Centaurium littorale, also known as beach centaury or beach centuary, is a species of flowering plant in the gentian family. It is native to Europe and Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as a weed. The plant is known for its small, pink or white flowers and narrow leaves. It grows well in a variety of habitats, including sandy beaches, dunes, and waste areas. Centaurium littorale is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 60 cm in height. It is commonly found in coastal areas and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Seaside Centaury: A Beautiful and Medicinal Wildflower

Centaurium littorale, commonly known as Seaside Centaury, is a beautiful and versatile wildflower that grows along the coasts of Europe, North America, and Australia. This plant belongs to the gentian family and is renowned for its delicate and colorful flowers, which range from pink to purple, and its medicinal properties.

The Seaside Centaury is a small and compact plant that grows to a height of about 30 cm and has a sturdy stem. Its leaves are small, oval-shaped, and grow in pairs on the stem. The flowers are typically seen in clusters, and they bloom from late spring to early autumn, providing a beautiful burst of color to the coastal landscape.

Aside from its beauty, the Seaside Centaury is also valued for its medicinal properties. The plant contains bitter compounds that have been used for centuries to treat digestive problems, such as indigestion and bloating. It is also believed to have mild diuretic and laxative effects, making it useful for treating urinary tract infections and constipation. In traditional medicine, it was used to treat a variety of ailments, including heart disease, liver problems, and even cancer.

In addition to its medicinal properties, the Seaside Centaury is also used in the production of herbal teas and tonics. The bitter compounds in the plant are said to stimulate the appetite, improve digestion, and promote the overall health of the digestive system. It is also used as a natural remedy for colds, coughs, and other respiratory problems.

Despite its popularity, the Seaside Centaury is considered a threatened species in some parts of the world. Habitat destruction, urbanization, and coastal development have all contributed to a decline in its populations, making it important to protect this valuable plant.

The Seaside Centaury is a beautiful and versatile wildflower that not only adds a pop of color to the coastal landscape but also has numerous medicinal benefits. With proper conservation efforts, we can ensure that this valuable plant will continue to thrive for generations to come.

Growing and Caring for Seaside Centaury

If you're interested in growing Seaside Centaury in your garden, it's important to understand the conditions it needs to thrive. This plant is native to coastal areas, so it needs a well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and a location that is exposed to plenty of sunlight. Seaside Centaury is also drought-tolerant, so it can survive in areas that receive limited rainfall.

When planting Seaside Centaury, it's important to give it enough space to grow. This plant has a creeping habit, so it may spread out to form a dense ground cover over time. It's also important to keep it free from weeds, as they can compete with the plant for nutrients and moisture.

In terms of caring for Seaside Centaury, it's important to water it regularly, especially during periods of drought. This plant is also relatively low maintenance, so it doesn't need a lot of pruning or fertilizing. However, it's important to remove any dead or yellowing leaves or stems to keep the plant looking its best.

Harvesting and Using Seaside Centaury

If you're interested in using Seaside Centaury for medicinal purposes, it's important to know when to harvest the plant. The best time to harvest the leaves and stems is in the summer, when the plant is in full bloom. The leaves and stems should be harvested in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the sun becomes too intense.

Once harvested, the leaves and stems of Seaside Centaury can be used in a variety of ways. The bitter compounds in the plant make it a popular ingredient in tonics and digestive aids. It can also be used to make a tea by steeping the dried leaves and stems in hot water. This tea can be consumed on its own or combined with other herbs to enhance its health benefits.

Seaside Centaury is a beautiful and versatile wildflower that is easy to grow and care for. Its medicinal properties make it a valuable addition to any garden, and its beautiful flowers make it an attractive addition to any coastal landscape. If you're interested in growing this plant, it's important to understand its growing requirements and to harvest it at the right time for maximum health benefits.

Preserving Seaside Centaury

Given the decline in the populations of Seaside Centaury in some parts of the world, it's important to preserve this valuable plant for future generations. There are several ways that you can help to preserve Seaside Centaury:

  1. Plant it in your garden: Growing Seaside Centaury in your garden is a great way to help preserve this plant. By planting it in your garden, you are providing a safe habitat for this threatened species and helping to ensure its survival.

  2. Support conservation efforts: You can also support conservation efforts by making a donation to organizations that work to protect threatened species, including Seaside Centaury. These organizations often work to restore habitats, monitor populations, and raise awareness about the importance of preserving these plants.

  3. Be mindful when harvesting: If you're interested in harvesting Seaside Centaury for its medicinal properties, it's important to be mindful of the impact that your actions may have on the plant. Make sure to only take what you need, and avoid over-harvesting, which can harm the plant and its populations.

  4. Spread awareness: Finally, you can help to preserve Seaside Centaury by spreading awareness about the importance of this plant. Share information about its medicinal properties, beauty, and threatened status with your friends and family, and encourage others to protect and preserve this valuable species.

In conclusion, Seaside Centaury is a beautiful and valuable wildflower that deserves our attention and protection. By planting it in our gardens, supporting conservation efforts, being mindful when harvesting, and spreading awareness, we can help to ensure its survival for future generations to enjoy.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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