Greater Knapweed is a thistle-like plant that can be found on chalk downlands, roadside verges, woodland rides, hedgerows and cliff tops. It is more restricted in its distribution than its close relative, Common Knapweed, being found mainly in England on chalky soils. It is in bloom from June to September and is a huge favourite of all kinds of butterflies including Common Blues, Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns; sometimes it is covered in these species.
How to identify
The large bright pink-purple 'flowers' are actually composite flowers made up of many small florets. Around the edges of the 'flowers' are large, ragged star-like ray florets, with smaller dense florets in the middle.
Where to find it
Scattered across the UK, but predominantly grows in England.
When to find it
How can people help
Areas of rare and unique wildlife, chalk grasslands have been likened to rainforest for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate due to changes in land use causing the decline of grazing: it's estimated that we've lost 80% of our chalk grassland over the last 60 years. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland nature reserves for the benefit of the rare wildlife they hold by using traditional management methods such as autumn grazing and scrub clearance. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from flower surveys to stockwatching.