purple starthistle
Centaurea calcitrapa L.


Centaurea calcitrapa is a biennial to perennial plant. It grows 2-3 ft. (0.61-0.91 m) tall.
The stems and leaves are covered with fine hairs. Lower and basal leaves are divided or deeply lobed. Leaves become less divided toward the apex of the plant.
Flowering occurs from July to October, when purple to pink blooms develop at the ends of the stems. Floral bracts are tipped with 1 in. (2.5 cm) long, straw colored spines.
The fruit is an achene 0.08-0.16 in. (2-4 mm) long which lacks a pappus.
Ecological Threat
A native of southern Europe, Centaurea calcitrapa produces prolific seeds and often invades floodplains, dry forests and grasslands.

Selected Images


EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit www.eddmaps.org

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit Invasive.org

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Centaurea
Subject: Centaurea calcitrapa L.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
red starthistle


Plants - Forbs/Herbs