by Stephen Mifsud
   23 May 2024      ()
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Cheirolophus crassifolius   (Maltese Rock-Centaury)

Cheirolophus crassifolius  (ASTERACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date July-2006 (taxon update: July-2006)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Cheirolophus crassifolius - datasheet created on July-2006. Retrieved from on 23-May-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Cheirolophus crassifolius(Bertol.) Susanna
Published in Bot. Jour. Linn. Soc. 71: 192 (1976)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Palaeocyanus crassifolius (Bertol.) Dostál
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Asteraceae Bercht. & J.Presl (=Compositae) (The Daisy or Sunflower Family)
123 species from the Asteraceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Maltese Rock-Centaury, Malta Knapweed

Maltese name(s) :

Widnet il-baħar

Status for Malta :


Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: HEMICRYPTOPHYTE ( prostate plants with flowers close to the ground )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Protected by law: Regulation 26 and Schedule III of [S.L. 549.44] (Strictly protected endemic species)

Red List (1989) :

Threatened status for the Maltese Islands and has been listed in the Red Data Book (1st ed.)

Flowering Time :

May – July

Colour of Flowers:



Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

Cheirolophus: "One source gives 'Cheiri' as red-flowered, while another says 'Cheir' means a hand. The term 'lophus' means a crest of tufts. The most logical explanation would be that the name means a ""crested red flowers"" referring to the red-purple flowers with a crest-like tufts.". (Greek origin )
crassifolius: Derived from 'crassi' = thick and 'folius' = leaf, hence thick-leafed. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Encouraged to be planted in the wild that is in rural areas including ODZ.

Remarks :

This species is the National Plant of Malta.

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Maritime cliffs
Preferred habitat in Malta: Coralline limestone cliffs and elevated valley sides.
Botanical Description: Erect, perennial, glabrous herb. Stem up to 50 cm, branched above. Leaves undivided, up to 6 x 1.5 cm, almost all in a basal rosette, oblanceolate-spathulate, fleshy. Capitula terminal, long-pedunculate, ovoid. Involucre 20-25 mm in diameter; bracts coriaceous with entire margin and without appendage; middle bracts ovate, obtuse, finely striate. Florets all tubular, purple or white. Anthers with acuminate apical appendage. Achenes 6-8 mm, glabrous. Pappus white, slightly longer than the achene, with 2 rows of equal, scabrid setae, the inner row scale-like.
Chromosome number: 2n=30
Distributional range: Malta and Gozo.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Sicily and/or Malta
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
? Si(M)

Links & Further literature (3 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Assessment of Cheirolophus crassifolius for IUCN Redlist Darrin Stevens & Edwin lanfranco  (2006)
Distribution of some rare or endemic chasmophytic and rupestral species growing along the coastal cliffs of the Maltese Islands Stephen Mifsud  (2013)
Cytogenetic insights into an oceanic island radiation: The dramatic evolution of pre-existing traits in Cheirolophus (Asteraceae: Cardueae: Centaureinae) Oriane Hidalgo, Daniel Vitales, Joan Valles, Teresa Garnatje, Sonja Siljak-Yakovlev, Ilia J. Leitch & Jaume Pellicer  (2017)
Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (17 images)
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-0.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-1.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-2.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-3.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-4.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-5.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-6.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-7.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-8.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-9.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-10.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-11.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-12.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-13.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-14.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-15.
   Cheirolophus crassifolius   -   Image Code: CHLCF-16.

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Use this form to submit more information on this species or report mistakes in this webpage. If information supplied is taken from a book, journal or website, please provide the corresponding reference or website address. Your email address is only for internal communication. Please report only Maltese locations for plants that indicated as rare or very rare (refer to the nomenclature section above). Please do report mistakes, broken links, technical errors, typing / grammar errors, misidentifications or taxonomical updates; this will help to improve the website's accuracy. Thanks you! Fill any of the three sections (A/B/C) below and kindly submit the form.     * = required fields.
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Section B:   Where have you seen this plant on the Maltese Islands?
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Try to be as concise as possible. Examples: Dingli Cliffs (near chapel), Wied Incita (Zebbug side), Triq il-Kbira (Qormi), Barriera ta' Ghajn Abdul (Xlendi), Fields East of Salib tal-gholja (Siggiewi). GPS co-ordinates are also welcomed!
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