Succisa pratensis   Devil's-bit Scabious CCC DD N

Succisa pratensis whole Succisa pratensis close

This is a late summer flower which looks distinctly different from Scabiosa columbaria (Small Scabious) and Knautia arvensis (Field Scabious) with which it might possibly be confused. It tends to be a deeper blue and the flower stays quite compact on longish stalks. I tend to find it in wet places but Stace says it will grow in acid or basic grasslands, wet or dry.

There are quite a few unlikely sounding explanations for the English name amongst which is that the Devil used to act through the root of this plant so the Virgin Mary stopped him. In his anger the devil bit off the root which explains why the root stock of S. pratensis ends so abruptly.

Apart form a little area around The Wash in England, Succisa pratensis is found all over the British Isles even on the outer Islands of Shetland and St Kilda. In Scotland it flourishes and I have seen fields blue with its flowers in late summer.

LHS: Wicken Fen, 22nd August 2010 RHS: Great Orme, North Wales 23rd August 2001

Added on December 7th 2004, updated 12th February 2012, updated 19th Nov 2014

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict