Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Basket Flower, American Star Thistle, American Knapweed, Thornless Thistle
Centaurea americana

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Centaurea (sen-TAR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: americana (a-mer-ih-KAY-na) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

11 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 18 photos.
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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Limestonelin On Dec 31, 2012, Limestonelin from SPRING BRANCH, TX wrote:

I started growing this plant from seed that I collected by the roadside. It has become an important addition to our butterfly garden. After it goes to seed, it is so easy to pull up. I just allow it to reseed itself. Requires no care. I love it!!

Positive frostweed On Jun 7, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Basket Flower, American Star Thistle, American Knapweed, Thornless Thistle Centaurea americana is Native to Texas and other States.

Positive htop On May 4, 2007, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Centaurea americana is also coomonly known as Powderpuff Thistle, Cardo del Valle, Shaving Brush. It may be found growing natively throughout most of North America.

I am always so happy to see the basket flower begin blooming. I think that the bloom buds are as beautiful as the fully opened blooms. The flower grows in sandy or clay-loam soils in edges of fields, prairies disturbed areas, over-grazed pastures, roadsides. It is most commonly found growing in prairies. In Texas, it is found in all regions, but especially in the Edwards Plateau and South Texas Plains. Basket flower is the most common wildflower in the state and is considered by many as being the showiest (besides the bluebonnet of course).

It may grow as tall as 5 or 6 feet with a 3 foot or more width. It typically grows to a height of 4 feet. It has a solitary stem that is marked by grooves or ridges. The spineless stem is thick and sturdy with many branches in the upper section. The 2.5 to 3.5 inch, alternate, stalkless leaves are lance-shaped. They may be shallowly toothed or entire. The 4 inch in diameter flowerhead is constructed entirely of disk flowers. Each one has an extremely long corolla. The pink to lavender, rarely white, petals look somewhat like a thistle with a cream colored center. They are held in a basket-like structure made up of distinctive green, prickled phyllaries. It has a basket weave pattern to it; hence, the most widely used common name of the plant. Butterflies relish the blooms and the seeds serve as food for dove and quail. The blooms are frequently used in fresh as well as dried floral arrangements.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Barbourville, Kentucky
Tully, New York
Pocola, Oklahoma
Sawyer, Oklahoma
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Fort Worth, Texas
Garland, Texas
Merit, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Spring Branch, Texas
Hot Springs, Virginia
Natural Bridge, Virginia

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