Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Spotted Knapweed - Centaurea stoebe   L.
Members of Asteraceae:
Members of Centaurea with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Asterales » Family Asteraceae
DistributionMostly Mountains and Piedmont, barely entering the Sandhills proper (and apparently only recently). First collected in 1929 in Macon County, then 1934 in Forsyth County, and 1938 in Buncombe County. Collected in numerous counties by 1960.

Native of Europe; in N.A. essentially throughout the U.S. and southern Canada.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains, and fairly common to locally frequent in much of the Piedmont; rare in the Sandhills (discovered in Moore in 2020 and Richmond in 2021), but not yet known from the northeastern Piedmont.
HabitatRoadsides, railroads, fields, barnyards, pastures, disturbed soils.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting early June-October.
IdentificationSpotted Knapweed is a rangey plant up to 5 or 6 feet tall with spreading to ascending branches, overall gray-green in color, and with deeply pinnately dissected leaves. The flower heads grow at the ends of long branches, are ovoid, and the disk and ray florets are pink-purple. The phyllaries (bracts surrounding the base of the head) are green with neat black triangular tips that are fringed.
Taxonomic CommentsGenerally named as C. maculosa in most references, and later as C. biebersteinii. Weakley (2018) considers ssp. micranthos as the taxon present in the state.

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