A perennial herb of meadows and pastures, sea-cliffs, roadsides, railway banks, scrub, woodland edges, field borders and waste ground, on a wide range of soils. 0-580 m (Cadair Idris, Merioneth) and exceptionally at 845 m on Great Dun Fell (Westmorland).
The distribution of C. nigra is stable. Forms on light soils in England and Wales are sometimes recognised as subsp. nemoralis. Elsewhere, subsp. nigra predominates. Intermediates occur where both subspecies grow, and also in the absence of subsp. nemoralis.
Suboceanic Temperate element; widely naturalised outside its native range.
Light (Ellenberg): 7
Moisture (Ellenberg): 5
Reaction (Ellenberg): 6
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.6
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.5
Annual Precipitation (mm): 1093
Height (cm): 80
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2658
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 975
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 11
Atlas Change Index: -0.25
Weighted Changed Factor: -7
Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)
Atlas text references
Atlas Supp (74a-c)
1988. Comparative Plant Ecology.
1957. The Flora of Wiltshire.
1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
1954. British Knapweeds.
1992. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 3. 2 vols.
1969. Variation within Centaurea nigra L. Proceedings of the Botanical Society of the British Isles. 7:549-552.