Centaurea axillaris Willd.

Centaurea axillaris Willd.


  • Cyanus axillaris (Willd.) J. Presl & C. Presl
  • Centaurea montana subsp. axillaris (Willd.) Čelak.
  • Centaurea triumfetti subsp. axillaris (Willd.) Stef. & T. Georgiev
  • Cyanus triumfetti subsp. axillaris (Willd.) Štěpánek
  • Centaurea triumfetti var. axillaris (Willd.) Hayek
  • =Centaurea cana Sm. p. pte
  • Cyanus canus (Sm.) Holub
  • Centaurea triumfetti subsp. cana (Sm.) Dostál
  • Centaurea variegata subsp. cana (Sm.) Nyman
  • Centaurea axillaris var. cana (Sm.) Boiss.
  • Centaurea triumfetti var. cana (Sm.) Hayek
  • =Centaurea triumfetti subsp. aligera Dostál, nom. illeg.
  • "Centaurea triumfetti" auct., non All.
  • "Cyanus triumfetti" auct., non (All.) Á. Löve & D. Löve



Greece (East Central Greece present; North Aegean islands present; North Central Greece present; North Pindos present; North-East Greece present; Peloponnisos present; South Pindos present; Sterea Ellas present; West Aegean islands present)


Native / Non Range-Restricted


European-SW Asian




Woodlands and scrub, Temperate and submediterranean Grasslands

IUCN category

Not Evaluated

Presidential Decree 67/81



This is the perennial cornflower-blue Centaurea species with central flowering stem (not lateral as in C. pichleri) known as C. triumfetti in previous Greek floristic literature. As elucidated by Skokanová & al. (2009), C. triumfetti All. is a taxon confined to the Alps of SE France and NW Italy, hence phytogeographically classified as a W Alpine orophyte by Tison & de Foucault (2014: 421) and absent from other parts of Europe and the Mediterranean basin. In Greece and adjacent areas of SE Europe and SW Asia it is replaced by a species of the C. triumfetti group traditionally known as Centaurea axillaris Willd. (= C. triumfetti subsp. axillaris (Willd.) Stef. & T. Georgiev). Unfortunately, Willdenow’s name is illegitimate unless conserved with a conserved type as proposed by Skokanová & Koutecký (2018). If the proposal is not accepted, the well-established name would have to be abandoned and a new name would be required for European populations treated currently as Centaurea axillaris auct. or Cyanus axillaris auct. The younger synonym Centaurea cana Sm. seems appropriate for populations of Greece and Turkey but deserves if necessary a similar procedure of conservation by lectotypification since the type material from Ulu Dağ in NW Anatolia consists of a mixture of Centaurea pichleri Boiss. and an alpine form of the C. triumfetti group. Therefore Wagenitz (1975: 577) suggested that the name C. cana (≡ Cyanus canus (Sm.) Holub) should at best be dropped. We follow here the revised nomenclature, synonymy and epithet orthography adopted by Olšavska & al. (2011: 90–91): Allioni, in 1774, named Centaurea triumfetti after Giovanni Battista Trionfetti, alias Triumfetti (1658–1708), professor of botany and director of the Botanical Garden in Rome. In the original description Allioni used the epithet “triumfetti” as the appropriate genitive to the dedicatee’s latinized name Ioannes Baptista Triumfettus. The other often used orthographic variant “triumfettii” is formed by adding the appropriate genitive inflection (-i) to G. B. Trionfetti’s publicly established alias name. According to the rules of the Code of Botanical Nomenclature both epithets are correct, yet the original spelling “triumfetti” has priority.

- Olšavská K., Perny M., Kučera J. & Hodálová I. 2011: Biosystematic study of the Cyanus
triumfetti group in Central Europe. – Preslia 83: 59–98.
- Skokanová K. & Koutecký P. 2018: (2661) Proposal to conserve the name Centaurea axillaris (Compositae) with a conserved type. – Taxon 67: 1224–1225.
- Skokanová, K., Perný, M., Mártonfi, P. & Hodálová, I. 2009: Cyanus triumfettii subsp. triumfettii (Compositae) does not occur in the western Carpathians and adjacent parts of Pannonia: karyological and morphological evidence. – Nordic J. Bot. 27: 21–36.
- Tison J.-M. & de Foucault B. 2014: Flora Gallica. Flore de France. – Mèze: Biotope Editions.
- Wagenitz G. 1975: Centaurea L. – Pp. 465–585 in Davis P. H. (ed.), Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 5. – Edinburgh: University Press.

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