This showy perennial is native to the rugged islands of Italy. The feathery ever-grey, almost white, foliage is the outstanding feature of this plant. Fluffy purple flowers in the Spring and the foliage alike are great for stylized bouquets as well as neglected areas of your yard.
Unless you’re desperate for an excuse, don’t book your trip to Sicily ‘to hunt for it’. The IUCN classifies it as endangered in its native habitat.
Finding Centaurea gymnocarpa [dusty miller] is much easier in Wildwood Farm’s perennial display along Sonoma Highway. The grey foliage will be even more prominent next spring when neighboring purple salvia blooms. Remember that white foliage needs color or contrast from surrounding plants to maximize its impact. This dusty miller is especially fantastic because it has purple flowers, instead of pale yellow ones found on other dusty millers. Pale yellow might work well with succulents but purple seems best with other perennials.
Even though it’s endangered, we’re not going to coddle our baby Centaurea. We think it will appreciate weekly watering next summer though!