What Is Cephalaria - Knowledgebase Question

Shingletown, CA
Avatar for lilgoot
Question by lilgoot
February 17, 2000
I purchased seed of what I thought was Yellow Scabiosa, they were over $1.00 each, and when they arrived they did not resemble any other Scabiosa seeds that I had ever seen. The botanical name Cephalaria was not in any book that I have. The description says it is a shrub and will grow 5 to 6 feet. What is this plant actually? Thank you, love your Web site!

Answer from NGA
February 17, 2000
Cephalaria is in fact yellow Scabiousa. These hardy perennials are natives of Europe and grow up to 6 feet high with a spread of 4 feet. Cephalaria gigantea, the Giant or Yellow Scabiousa, is a vigorous growing plant with dark green leaves divided into lance-shaped sections. The beautiful, large, pale yellow flowers are borne atop wiry stems in mid-summer.

Cephalarias should be grown in fertile, moist, but well-drained soil, in full sun. They are suitable for large borders and for naturalizing in a wild garden.

You may have confused Scabiosa, the pincushion flower, (family Dipsacaceae)with yellow scabiousa (Cephalarias). It happens often when we use common names instead of botanical names when referring to a plant.

Hope you enjoy your plants, regardless of their botanical name!

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