Devil's-bit Scabious

Scientific name: Succisa pratensis
The pincushion-like, lilac-blue flower heads of Devil's-bit Scabious attract a wide variety of butterflies and bees. Look for this pretty plant in damp meadows and marshes, and on riverbanks.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 75cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

July to October

About

The rounded and nodding, purple-blue flower heads of Devil's-bit Scabious can be found in damp meadows and marshes, and along woodland rides and riverbanks. It is in bloom between July and October, its pincushion-like flower heads attracting a wide variety of bees and insects. It is also the foodplant for the declining Marsh Fritillary butterfly, which is classified as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

How to identify

Devil's-bit Scabious has flattened, rounded flower heads that range in colour from blue to pinky-purple. Its leaves are long and oval, and differ from those of Field Scabious, which are dark green, hairy and deeply lobed.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Devil's-bit Scabious gets its Latin name - 'Scabere', meaning to scratch - from its traditional use as a treatment for skin conditions, such as scabies and the sores of bubonic plague. Its common name arises from the fact that its roots look truncated, as if bitten off, legend has it, by the Devil.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.