The Yellow Centaury Plant

Yellow Centaury, one of the species that we are bringing back from the brink in Dorset’s Heathland Heart, is a miniscule member of the Gentian family that rarely grows taller than about 10cm, and can be less than 1cm. It’s sunshine-yellow flowers only open in the middle of the day in bright sun, making it even hard to locate. It favours rutted, damp trackways running through heathland, the edges of seasonal pools, and well-grazed damp grassland. Once found more widely across heathy areas, it is now largely restricted to the New Forest, the Dorset Heaths, Cornwall and the St David’s Commons in Pembrokeshire. Its decline is due to the loss of heathland habitat and changes in how the remaining heathlands are used, not particularly surprising considering its strict requirements. This plant needs open or sparsely vegetated ground that is wet in winter, and it thrives where the ground is disturbed – a combination that limits other more vigorous plants that compete with it for light and nutrients. Disturbance also exposes dormant seeds in the soil seed bank, allowing them to germinate.

Back from the Brink volunteer Lynne Goble, who re-found the Grange Heath population said “I never thought I was ever going to find this wee plant - can’t believe how excited I am!” So are we.

You can read more about the Yellow Centaury in our Factsheet: Yellow Centaury SL.docx


Sophie Lake, Plantlife

Project Manager - Dorset Heathland's Heart


Would you like to help these incredible species? There are numerous ways in which you can:

  • Why not volunteer for Back from the Brink? Check out our events page for opportunities near you.
  • Help us to spread the word of this species, and the others we will be helping over the next 3 years, by sharing our message across our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Follow us: @naturebftb.
  • Finally - help support the work we do across England by donating. Our impact will be greater with your help.