Information on Lesser Centaury

Common Name: Lesser Centaury
Scientific Name: Centaurium pulchellum
Irish Name: Dréimire beag
Family Group: Gentianaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Lesser Centaury could sometimes be confused with:

Centaury, Common,

This is a truly tiny wildflower and very easily overlooked.  As it needs to grow on short turf in order not to be completely swamped by other vegetation, it's found growing on grassy pathways where it could so easily be trampled on.  However it seems to survive in just a few little areas in Ireland of damp grassy places, sandy coastal ground and dry saltmarshes.  It's an annual plant which flowers from June to September.  Seldom growing higher than 10cm, Lesser Centaury does not have a basal rosette (like Common Centaury) but has narrow, 3-7 veined leaves which grow in opposite pairs along the stems.  It has pretty, bright pink, 5-petalled flowers (5-8mm across) which are borne at the tips of the pale green stalks in loose clusters.  The corolla is a long slender tube with 5 (occasionally 4) spreading, narrow petals, below which is the calyx which has narrow teeth.  This is a native plant and it belongs to the Gentianaceae family.  

I spotted this minute wildflower close to Tacumshin, Co Wexford in 2009 and took the photographs at that time.  

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Centaury, Lesser
Centaury, Lesser

This species is protected under the Flora (Protection) Order, 2015 and is classed as NEAR THREATENED in the Red Data List of Vascular Plants 2016. 

The genus Centaurium has its place in herbal medicine where it has many applications, however it is best known as a treatment for heartburn and colic.  It is available from Healthfood shops under many manufacturers' labels.