he Red Centaury is an annual, with a yellowish, fibrous, centaury exporter woody root, the stem stiff, square and erect, 3 to 12 inches in height, often branching considerably at the summit. The leaves are of a pale green colour, smooth and shiny, their margins undivided. The lowest leaves are broader than the others, oblong or wedge-shaped, narrowed at the base, blunt at the end and form a spreading tuft at the base of the plant, while the stalkless stem-leaves are pointed and lance-shaped, growing in pairs opposite to one another at somewhat distant intervals on the stalk, which is crowned by flat tufts (corymbs) of rose-coloured,
star-like flowers, with five-cleft corollas. The stamens are five in number: the anthers have a curious way of twisting themselves round after they have shed their pollen, this being one of the distinctive points between the plants of this genus and those of the genus Gentiana, with which it has much in common, having by some earlier botanists been assigned to that genus, under the name of Gentiana centaurium, or Centaury Gentian. The flowers open only in fine weather and not after mid-day:centaury exporter Gerard chronicles their love of light, saying that they 'in the day-time and after the sun is up, do open themselves and towards evening do shut up again.' A variety is sometimes found with white corollas.
he name of the genus to which it is at present assigned, Erythraea, is derived from the Greek erythros (red), from the colour of the flowers. The genus was formerly called Chironia, from the Centaur Chiron, who was famous in Greek mythology for his centaury exporter skill in medicinal herbs, and is supposed to have cured himself with it from a wound he had accidentally received from an arrow poisoned with the blood of the hydra. The English name Centaury has the same origin.