Lesser centaury

Lesser Centaury

©Philip Precey

Lesser centaury

Scientific name: Centaurium pulchellum
Often overlooked, Lesser centaury is a tiny plant of grassy, open habitats like dunes, cliffs, heaths and grasslands. As its name suggests, it is much smaller than its relative, Common centaury.

Species information


Height: 10-15cm

Conservation status


When to see

June to September


Smaller and more slender than its relative, Common centaury, Lesser centaury is an annual plant that can be found on grassy, open ground, such as sand dunes, coastal cliffs, heathlands and grasslands. It is in bloom between June and September and, like other members of the gentian family, its bright pink flowers close during the afternoon.

How to identify

Lesser centaury has small, bright pink, five-petalled flowers that are held in loose clusters at the top of its branching stems. Unlike the similar Common Centaury, it does not have leaves at the base of its stem, but has narrow, oval leaves that appear in opposite pairs up the stem.


Most common in Southern England, but also found along the coasts of North Wales and North West England.

Did you know?

Plants of the centaurium genus have been well used in herbal medicine; Lesser Centaury is best known as a treatment for heartburn and colic.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.