SAW-WORT

Serratula tinctoria

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]

Flowers:
month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

Pappus: pappusZpossible (white, simple, smallish)
pappus8aug pappus8sep pappus8sept pappus8oct pappus8nov

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8purple flower8mauve
inner
inner8white
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZMany
stem
stem8angular
sex
sexZdioecious

31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
 Stiff upright stems to 70cm usually well-branched in upper part. The plant is dioecious, with male and female flowers on differing plants. This is a female plant, those longer white things in the inflorescence are styles.


30th Aug 2011, Photo: © Phillip Bagshaw
 A female plant; the long, forked white protrusions are styles. Un-like Knapweeds (Centaurea species) the leaves are finely but sharply toothed. Often much shorter in exposed places, maybe just 10cm high.


31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
 Female flowers. Neither stems nor leaves are spiny (as they are in many Thistles). Leaves dark-green and usually deeply-lobed almost to the mid-rib.


31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
 Flowers purple/lilac and more similar to those of Knapweeds than to thistles.


30th Aug 2011, Photo: © Phillip Bagshaw
 The flower heads in loose clusters and look a little like those of Creeping Thistle but without the spiny bristle-tipped (not spines) leaves. Here the double-styles are visible (right), so this is a female plant.


30th Aug 2011, Photo: © Phillip Bagshaw
 Flower heads fairly smallish, only 15-20m.


31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
 Flower heads similar to those of Centauries such as Cornflower. The female flowers (as here) have very long stigmas.


31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
 The long stigmas terminate with two recurved styles.


31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
 Displaying its true colours, purple, lilac and a blue-purple.


30th Aug 2011, Photo: © Phillip Bagshaw
 Phyllaries are simple and acute to acuminate triangular, in many rows.


30th Aug 2011, Photo: © Phillip Bagshaw
 If the phyllaries are acuminate, as here, the phyllaries have a short pointy tip (otherwise they are just acute). Phyllaries edged by many short whitish hairs.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Before flowering the flower buds are small and shaped like rugby balls; a prolate spheroid. Stem leaves near the ground are large and with very deep lobes.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Flower buds few in close-knit clusters.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Flower buds totally enclosed by several overlapping triangular-shaped phyllaries.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A twinned-on-to-the-stalk flower bud. Phyllaries edged by many short white hairs. The stems have fewer and shorter hairs.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Phyllaries overlap to make diamond shapes.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
The tip of the flower bud. Yes, it rained earlier. Your Author does not know whether this and other photos of the specimen at found on 6th June 2016 at Waitby Greenriggs is male or female, no flower buds had opened.


31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
Upper-stem leaves can be deeply lacerated as they near where they join stalklessly to two sides of the square stem.


31st Aug 2015, Waitby Greenriggs, Smardale, Kirkby Stephen. Photo: © RWD
Leaves with bristle-tipped teeth.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Stem leaves peel off the stem without stalks.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Each leaf has many deep lobes and a central 'wing' along the mid-rib. The lobes are slightly forward-directed. The end lobe is either long, or shorter and lobed into three.


6th June 2016, Waitby Greenriggs, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Each lobe of the leaf has fine forwardly-directed sawtooth-shaped teeth, which is perhaps how the plant obtained its name, Saw-wort.


Some resemblance to : Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense) but that has leaves with long sharp spines on and is taller at up to 2m.

Slight resemblance to Alpine Saw-wort (Saussurea alpina) which has similar flower-heads but only two rows of much longer phyllaries, grows about 45cm high on mountains in Snowdonia, Cumbria, Scotland and eastern parts of Ireland, and has dark-green leaves with wavy teeth and which are covered in white hairs underneath. But Alpine Saw-wort is in a differing genera than Saw-wort.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : the pinnate leaves with small sharp bristle-tipped teeth and the Knapweed-type flower heads.

No relation to : False Saw-wort (Crupina vulgaris) [a plant with similar name that looks a bit like Saw-wort], nor to Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) [a coniferous tree] nor to Saw-leaved Moon-daisy (Leucanthemum atratum) which belongs to the Dandelion & Daisy Family (Asteraceae).

In the Middle Ages the dye produced by Saw-wort was as highly valued as that produced by Weld and was used in several European textile centres. Used with alum as the mordant a pale lemon-yellow and an olive-green shade can be imparted to wool. It contains high quantities of the flavonoids Luteolin and its glycoside Luteolin-7-O-Glucoside. The leaves contain Luteolin-4′-O-Glucoside and the flavonoid 3-MethylQuercetin. The plant also contains Apigenin, yet another yellow flavonoid.

It is a dioecious plant, with male and female flowers on separate plants. If it is wished to propagate it by seed, then both sexes will be required. The photographs by Philip Bagshaw are of the female version of the plant, as is, purely by chance, the specimen shown from Waitby Greenriggs. It is perennial and grows on either slightly acidic or slightly alkaline but well-drained soils in old grassland, meadows, scrub, cliff tops, rocky streams and the margins or open parts of deciduous woodland.


  Serratula tinctoria  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Asteraceae  

Distribution
 family8Daisy & Dandelion family8Asteraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Serratula
Serratula
(Saw-Worts)

SAW-WORT

Serratula tinctoria

Daisy & Dandelion Family [Asteraceae]