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Flowers & Plants - Common or Black Knapweed & Ox-Eye Daisy
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Common or Black Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

This plant is common on the drier grassland of Dubwath meadows and, indeed, is one of the most characteristic plants of traditional hay meadows. It is thistle-like in appearance but without spines. Dark flower heads with pink-purple flowers appear on branched stems from July to September and are very attractive to insects including hoverflies, bumble bees, butterflies and day-flying moths. The flower head is hard, a mass of bracts overlapping each other like tiles, each having a central green black fringe-like edge, the latter giving the plant the name 'black'.

Both the name 'knapweed' and its alternative 'hardheads' come from the round, hard head, 'knap' being a form of 'knop' or 'knob'. The plant once had a very reputation as a healer of wounds. Indeed, the scientific name Centaurea derives from Centaur Chiron of Greek mythology, who was famed for his skill in medicinal herbs, and is supposed to have cured himself with it from a wound he had received from an arrow poisoned with thw blood of the hydra.

Ox-Eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)

This plant is often to be found with knapweed on the drier parts of Dubwath and, like knapweed, is a very characteristic flower of traditional hay meadows. The plant looks like a giant daisy - it comes into flower by mid-May and continues until the end of June (it may continue to flower sporadically until autumn).

The ancient Greeks dedicated the plant to Artemis, the goddess of women, considering it useful in women's complaints. In Christian times, the plant was transferred to St Mary Magdalen and called Maudelyn or Maudlin Daisy after her. The herbalist Gerard called it Maudlinwort.

The scientific name comes from the Greek words chrisos (golden) and anthos (flower) and from leucos (white) and anthos - in other words 'gold flower - white flower'.