ASTRANTIA

GREAT MASTERWORT, PINK MASTERWORT

Astrantia major

Carrot Family (Umbelliferae) [Apiaceae]  

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8Aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8pink
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZmany
type
typeZumbel
stem
stem8round

24th June 2006, Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath. Photo: © RWD
Showing the triple-compound-ness of the compound flowers.


17th June 2014, a garden, Arnside, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD


17th June 2014, a garden, Arnside, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
There umbels seem to split into 4 (each one of which may split into two or three others compound flowers) with a longer central one making 5.


24th June 2006, Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath. Photo: © RWD
The white petals are actually bracteoles, and have green tips. The triple-fractal nature of the flower heads can be seen more clearly here by observing the placement of the several sets of bracteoles. This belies the true nature of Pink Masterwort: it is an (albeit un-typical) umbellifer.


24th June 2006, Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath. Photo: © RWD
A single compound flower head. The florets are sometimes tinged pink, hence the name.


24th June 2006, Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath. Photo: © RWD
The white bracteoles are green tipped with several fine green veins (three for ssp. carinthiaca as here; or 5 for ssp. elatior).


10th July 2009, Grange, Borrowdale Valley, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
This sub-species has in-conspicuous cross veins on the bracteoles and may therefore be ssp. maxima.


12th Sept 2007, Crag Inn, Wildboardclough, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Some floret stalks (seemingly not all) are surrounded by a frilly green-striped barrel-shaped sheath.


17th June 2014, a garden, Arnside, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Another view of the frilly sheaths. These are destined to become the long barrel-shaped papillose fruits.


17th June 2014, a garden, Arnside, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Each floret consists of five rolled-over petals with two long stigmas protruding from the centre. Tye central florets have un-shrouded pinkish-red stalks, the outer florets the frilly white sheaths.


24th June 2006, Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are palmate, five-fingered and toothed, reminiscent of Cinquefoils.


10th July 2009, Grange, Borrowdale Valley, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The stems are ridged like many other Umbellifers. This sub-species has conspicuous cross veins on on the bracteoles.



Great Masterwort (aka Pink Masterwort) (Astrantia major) is not native to Britain, and any occurrences are probably garden escapees. Some of the examples shown here were in a lone patch in the heavily grassed verges alongside the Worcester and Birmingham Canal on Midsummers day, 2006, an exceptionally warm year; indeed, the warmest for 350 years!

There are two species of Astrantia, Astrantia minor, largely un-branched up to 70cm tall, and the largely similar but sturdier and branched Astrantia Major, which is up to 1m tall with an umbellifer-type canopy of flowers. The specimens shown above are branched therefore Astrantia Major. The conspicuous white 'petals' are bracteoles, the real flowers are within and much smaller, but still white (with perhaps a pink tinge).

Not to be confused with : Masterwort (Imperatoria ostruthium) [a plant with similar name which is also an umbellifer, but not in the same genus]

If the reader thinks that some of the florets in the umbels look different to others, there are two types on the same plant: pedicellate (stalked) male florets and bisexual florets.

There are three or four sub-species of Astrantia major, all garden flowers, most of which can escape into the wild:

  • Great Masterwort (Astrantia major ssp. major) with most bracteoles less than 15mm and with 3 green veins.
  • Great Masterwort (Astrantia major ssp. carinthiaca) more popular in gardens than the former, bracteoles larger at 15-22mm, still with 3 green veins.
  • Great Masterwort (Astrantia major ssp. elatior) which is grown in gardens and may escape in the future. Has 5-veined bracteoles and has papillose fruits (covered in small nipples).
  • Great Masterwort (Astrantia major ssp. maxima) which is most commonly grown in gardens and may escape in the future. Has potentially the largest bracteoles at 10-30mm long which have inconspicuous cross-veins.
The above photos may represent several of these differing sub-species.


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Distribution
family8carrot family8umbelliferae family8apiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8astrantia
Astrantia
(Astrantia)

ASTRANTIA

GREAT MASTERWORT, PINK MASTERWORT

Astrantia major

Carrot Family (Umbelliferae) [Apiaceae]  

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