Flowering Plant

Lesser Knapweed

Wild Flower

(Centaurea nigra)

Lesser knapweed is also known as common black knapweed. It is a competitive wild flower found throughout the UK and parts of western Europe, in old meadows and roadsides. It may be known as 'hardheads'.


It attracts hoverflies, honey bees and bumblebees so has a high wildlife value.


A perennial species, which will persist better if allowed to set seed.


It is a fairly reliable species when sown as part of a meadow mixture, although on favourable ground, without management it can take over.

Frost Tolerance

This is a frost tolerant species.

Ideal Sowing Time

Sow in autumn or spring.


Knapweed is easy to grow and needs little care.

Distinguishing characteristics


This is an oblong shaped seed, with two flat sides. It has a stripey pale green to gold colour. It has a reasonably smooth surface and is 3mm in length.


The lesser knapweed seedling has a pair of oblong cotyledons, which are slightly longer than they are wide. The first true leaves are longer and narrower, with the beginnings of widely toothed edges.

Flowering Plant

Flowering Plant
This is a dark green, stout and hairy plant. The lower leaves are lanceolate in shape and usually undivided. The upper leaves can become more divided, with pinnate lobes. The flower head is thistle like and maroon to purple in colour.

Additional Info

Flowers June-September. Knapweed is often known as hardheads, describing the nobby seedheads (knap being an archaism for ‘head'). Lesser Knapweed is a fantastic provider of nectar for bees and butterflies, and seed supply for finches.

You can find Lesser Knapweed in the following mixtures


This species is native to Europe and Russia.