Information on Common Centaury

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


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

Centaury, Lesser,

This is a very variable little wildflower as, depending on the conditions of its habitat, it can grow from 5 to 50 cm tall.  It is an erect, hairless annual which can be found on damp woodland paths, scrub, dunes and on short turf beside the sea.  Its pretty pink 5-petalled flowers (10-12mm across) are borne in terminal clusters and also from side shoots.  They are unstalked and only open in full sunshine.  The pale green leaves are oval, the lower forming a basal rosette, the upper being narrower than those below.  The flowers appear from June to September.  This is a native plant belonging to the family Gentianaceae.

I first found this little plant at the Rine in the Burren, Co Clare in 1977 and photographed it in the same place in 2006 and near Tullycanna, Co Wexford in 2009.

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

Centaury, Common
Centaury, Common

17th century apothecary and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper reported of 'Ordinary Small Centaury' that 'The whole plant is of an exceeding bitter taste' and that it helped to cure 'the dropsy', a condition which is nowadays regarded as edema.