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Products > Centaurea gymnocarpa
Centaurea gymnocarpa - Velvet Centaurea
Image of Centaurea gymnocarpa
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: Italy (Europe)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Purple
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Centaurea cineraria]
Height: 3-4 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): No Irrigation required
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Centaurea gymnocarpa (Velvet Centaurea) - A beautiful fast growing sprawling sub-shrub that flows along the ground to 3 feet tall by 6 to 8 feet wide. It has soft grayish-white filigreed leaves that are pinnatisect with segments often lobed and purple thistle-like flowers that are held at the branch tips attractively on whitish stems from spring through mid-summer. Plant in sunny spot in any type of soil, even clay, with plenty of room and water sparingly as this plant is well adapted to our dry California summers. Hardy to 15-20 degrees F. Tolerant of drought, heavy soil and is even resistant to deer predation. A great plant for a groundcover or filler between other contrastingly colored plants. This plant can open up a bit in the middle and with its rampant growth can also overrun other plants, so often looks best if trimmed back after blooming. It can tolerate a hard prunning and rebounds quickly. The name for the genus comes from the centaurs of Greek mythology which were claimed to have discovered the plants medicinal qualities and the specific epithet means "naked fruit". There is considerable confusion surrounding the valid name for this plant that for over a century has been called Centaurea gymnocarpa by horticultural professionals. Recent investigations into this plant have determined that the true Centaurea gymnocarpa, also known as Centaurea cineraria var. gymnocarpa, that was first described by Italian botanists Giuseppe Moris and Giuseppe De Notaris is a rare and endangered plant that hails from the island of Capraia, a small island that is part of the Tuscan Archipelago of Italy. It is listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. The plant in cultivation, commonly called Velvet Centaurea but also sharing the common name Dusty Miller with a number of other plants, has been determined by phylogenetic studies to be more closely related to Centaurea cineraria, which comes from the mainland of Italy. We continue to use the name Centaurea gymnocarpa so as not to confuse our customers but acknowledge that this name is not considered to be botanically correct for this plant. We will certainly change the name we use for this popular plant as soon as the correct name gets wider circulation. 

This information about Centaurea gymnocarpa displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.