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A superb perennial with flowers of a very distinctive colour in the British flora. Its tall and graceful habit makes it a great addition to a sunny border or meadow.
Field Scabious is closely related to Teasle and Devil’s-bit Scabious, all of which have distinctively coloured flowers in blue, bluish-lilac or bluish-violet. This species is a robust perennial producing clumps of large leaves, the lower ones tending to be unlobed while those higher up the stems are deeply lobed. It flowers for a long period, from June until October, with tall, branching stems carrying a succession of the flat, disk-like flowers. These are actually composed of many small individual flowers, each of which has four unequal petals, and they always seem to attract every pollinating insect around.
In the wild, Field Scabious is a flower of downland, grassland, meadows, grassy verges, hedgerows and grassy waste ground. It’s most abundant on well-drained lime-rich soils over chalk and limestone, especially in southern Britain. It’s distinctly uncommon in much of Scotland and western Ireland.
Plants are widely available from garden centres and nurseries and are best planted in spring or autumn. They’re ideal for sunny borders and wildflower meadows and are an excellent way to attract pollinators. New plants can be produced by lifting and splitting clumps in autumn; seed can also be sown in autumn, but it can be a bit erratic in its germination.
Field Scabious in a Herefordshire meadow © Trevor Dines/Plantlife