Weed Seed: Centaurea diffusa (Diffuse knapweed)
Canadian: Occurs in AB, BC, ON, QC, SK (Brouillet et al. 2016Footnote 1).
Worldwide: Native to southeastern Europe and western Asia and it has expanded beyond its native range into central and western Europe and has also been introduced into North America and Argentina (CABI 2016Footnote 2).
Duration of life cycle
Biennial or short-lived perennial
Seed or fruit type
- Achene length: 1.4 - 3.0 mm
- Achene width: 0.7 - 1.5 mm
- Pappus length: 0.1 - 1.0 mm
- Achene is oblong with rounded bottom and flat top, laterally compressed; large notch near the base
- Achene has smooth, dull surface texture
- Pale, reddish-brown, occasionally dark greenish-brown achene with pale markings: a strong central stripe within lines to either side and a pale area around the basal notch
Habitat and crop association
Fields, rangelands, grasslands, dunes, open forests, roadsides, railway lines, gravel pits, industrial sites and other disturbed areas (Darbyshire 2003Footnote 3, CABI 2016Footnote 2). A serious weed of alfalfa in its native range but mainly a weed of rangelands (CABI 2016Footnote 2).
Diffuse knapweed can be found over a wide range of soil and environmental conditions but cannot tolerate cultivation or excessive moisture (CABI 2016Footnote 2). Diffuse knapweed produces large numbers of seeds that are dispersed by wind, water, and animals. Plant stems may break off to become tumbleweeds, dispersing seeds over large distances (CABI 2016Footnote 2).
Spotted knapweed (Centurea stoebe)
- Spotted knapweed achenes have a similar size, oblong shape, pappus and dark colouring with pale stripes as diffuse knapweed.
- Spotted knapweed achenes are wider, with a prominent central stripe and a pale area around the top compared to diffuse knapweed. The brown colour of diffuse knapweed achenes is usually reddish while spotted knapweed is greenish. The pappus is also longer by up to 2.0 mm in spotted knapweed.
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