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Centunculus minimus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Primulaceae (Primrose)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
3 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, heathland, roadsides, seaside, wasteland, woodland.

Variable in colour, 5 petals
Tiny, solitary, pink or white flowers, measuring a mere 1 to 2mm in diameter. They are short-stalked and hidden in the bases of the leaves. The petals are shorter than the sepals.
Tiny, globular fruit.
A low growing, erect annual flower with oval leaves. The leaves are hardly stalked or not stalked at all. The upper leaves are alternate along the stems but lower leaves are in opposite pairs. Found mainly by the coast in southern and western England. Also on the coast in northern and western Ireland.
Other Names:
Small Centaury, Small Centuary.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Centunculus minimus, also known as small centaury or small 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 fields, gardens, and waste areas. Centunculus minimus is a herbaceous plant that can grow up to 60 cm in height. It is commonly found in disturbed areas and is considered an invasive weed in some areas. The plant is used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Chaffweed (Centunculus minimus) is a small, delicate wildflower that belongs to the Centunculus genus. This genus is a part of the Caryophyllaceae family, which also includes popular garden plants such as carnations and pinks.

Chaffweed is native to Europe and Asia and is considered a weed in many areas due to its ability to grow rapidly and displace other vegetation. Despite its reputation as a nuisance, chaffweed is still valued for its unique beauty and can be found in meadows, fields, and along roadsides throughout its range.

The plant's scientific name, Centunculus minimus, is derived from the Latin word "minimus," which means "smallest." True to its name, chaffweed is one of the smallest wildflowers in the world, reaching only 2-3 cm in height. Its delicate size belies its hardiness, however, and it is able to thrive in a variety of soils and climates.

Chaffweed has a simple yet charming appearance. Its delicate stems support tiny, five-petaled flowers that come in a variety of colors including pink, purple, white, and yellow. Its leaves are narrow and lance-shaped, and grow alternately along the stem.

In addition to its ornamental value, chaffweed is also used for medicinal purposes. Historically, the plant has been used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it useful for treating a variety of aches and pains.

Despite its small size and delicate appearance, chaffweed is a tough plant that is able to survive in a variety of conditions. Whether you are looking to add some color to your garden or searching for a new wildflower to admire on a hike, chaffweed is definitely worth considering.

Chaffweed's small size and charming appearance have made it a popular subject for photographers, artists, and naturalists. The plant's delicate beauty has been captured in countless images and paintings, and its unique characteristics have been documented in numerous books and scientific papers.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, chaffweed also plays an important role in the ecosystem. Its flowers provide an important source of nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, helping to maintain biodiversity in the areas where it grows.

One of the most interesting things about chaffweed is its ability to produce both male and female flowers on the same plant. This is known as hermaphroditism, and it is a characteristic that is relatively uncommon in the plant world. By producing both male and female flowers, chaffweed is able to self-pollinate and ensure its own survival, even in areas where there are few other plants of its kind.

Despite its widespread distribution, chaffweed is considered a threatened species in some areas due to habitat loss and degradation. Conservation efforts, such as the creation of nature reserves and the preservation of meadows and fields, are important for ensuring the continued survival of this unique and beautiful plant.

Chaffweed (Centunculus minimus) is a small yet hardy wildflower that is valued for its beauty, versatility, and ecological importance. Whether you are a gardener, naturalist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, chaffweed is a plant that is well worth getting to know.

Another aspect that makes chaffweed unique is its ability to spread rapidly. The plant produces large numbers of seeds that can be dispersed by the wind, and it also has a sprawling growth habit that allows it to quickly colonize new areas.

However, this rapid growth can also be a double-edged sword. While chaffweed can quickly take over an area and outcompete native vegetation, it is also highly susceptible to disease and pests. This means that, in areas where it has become invasive, it can be difficult to control and can have a significant impact on local ecosystems.

Despite these challenges, chaffweed is still widely used as a cover crop and as a green manure. When grown as a cover crop, chaffweed can help to prevent soil erosion, improve soil fertility, and control weeds. When grown as a green manure, chaffweed can be tilled into the soil, where its decaying matter will release valuable nutrients that can be taken up by other plants.

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the use of chaffweed as a biofuel. The plant's rapid growth and high yield make it an attractive candidate for use as a source of renewable energy, and researchers are exploring various ways to convert its biomass into biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

In conclusion, chaffweed (Centunculus minimus) is a fascinating and versatile plant that is of great ecological and economic significance. Whether you are interested in its ornamental value, its medicinal uses, or its potential as a biofuel, chaffweed is a plant that is sure to capture your attention and interest.