SEASIDE CENTAURY

Centaurium littorale

Gentian Family [Gentianaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZnative
 
flower
flower8pink
 
flower
flower8lilac
 
inner
inner8cream
 
inner
inner8yellow
 
morph
morph8actino
 
petals
petalsZ5
(4)-5
stem
stem8square
 
rarity
rarityZscarce
 

21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The leaves of Seaside Centaury are strap shaped (wide linear). It is shorter than Common Centaury, growing up to just 26cm (rather than up to the 50cm of Common Centaury). The flower inflorescences are rather dense.


21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD


21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The petals (really corolla lobes) are between 5 and 6.5mm long and are a more bluish-pink than those of Common Centaury.


21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
Sometimes the flowers are white.




A HYBRID

(Between Seaside Centaury and another Centaury)

21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The leaves are still the same distinctive strap-shaped as are those of Seaside Centaury.


21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The identifying feature of this as a hybrid are the 'thick-lips' appearance of the 'open-mouthed' stigma pair.


21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The pale green stigmas on the left have a puffy, grainy dome.


21st July 2018, Green Beach, Ainsdale, Sefton Coast Photo: © RWD
The domed feature of the two pale-green stigmas characteristic of a hybrid. Pollen grains have landed on the 'petals'. Perhaps the twisting facilitates the easier release of the pollen - your Author surmises(?)

The anthers here are twisted like short HSS drill bits or short twisted-candy sticks. Centaurys often do this, but the anthers are not always twisted - see photo above this one (on the flower in the bottom right corner).


Not to be semantically confused with : Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucous), Seaside Pansy (Viola tricolor ssp. curtisii) [plants with similar names]

Hybridizes with :

  • (Lesser Centaury) to produce Centaurium × aschersonianum which was found in South Lancs in 2008 - the lengths of the corolla tube and flower stalk are intermediate between the two parents.
  • (Common Centaury) to produce Centaurium × intermedium which is found on dunes on the Sefton Coast, Merioneth and Anglesey but which do not produce offspring readily, except on the Sefton Coast where backcrossing to both parents occurs producing fertile offspring. Other crossings are also possible. These complex cross-products are best left to experts to identify.
Perhaps it is best to look for Seaside Centaury elsewhere where it is not claimed to hybridise and back-cross etc. Luckily your Author was with experts who identified this Seaside Centaury specimen on the Sefton Coast.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : For Seaside Centaury, the leaf shape (strap shaped - oblong, slightly elliptical with sides almost parallel (they bulge outwards slightly) is exclusive to Seaside Centaury and is diagnostic: the leaves on the stems are narrow oblong-elliptical and with the sides almost parallel. The apex is round to obtuse. The plant is biennial and erect.

It is found not only on the Sefton Coast (where it can hybridise) but also on sandy turf and coastal sand dunes from Northern Britain to South Wales and North-east Yorkshire and in County (London)Derry.


  Centaurium littorale  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Gentianaceae  

Distribution
 family8Gentian family8Gentianaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Centaurium
Centaurium
(Centauries)

SEASIDE CENTAURY

Centaurium littorale

Gentian Family [Gentianaceae]