This stout thistle provides contrasting structure with neighbouring plants on the Herbaceous Beds.
A member of the daisy family (Asteraceae), Rhaponticum centauroides is an attractive, stocky thistle reaching 1m in height and originating from south west Europe, where it grows in calcareous soils in mountain meadows and streamside banks. Stiff flower stems bear fat buds covered in small scales, and from these emerge pink-purple, bristle-like flower heads in July and August. These are held aloft mounds of grey-green, dissected foliage. R. centauroides enjoys a sunny site in moisture-retentive soils, and, as many of the thistles, this is a good species for attracting bees and butterflies. This species has been subject to many name changes by botanists, and may also be referred to as Stemmacantha cantaureoides, Centaurea ‘Pulchra Major’, and Leuzea cynaroides, among others.