FIELD SCABIOUS (Knautia arvensis)

Field Scabious.

Scabious still in bloom in November - in the verge of Magpie Road.

In most years the field scabious could hardly be considered suitable to be November’s flower, but this year it is still in full bloom in early November. It is a tallish plant (up to 3 feet or so), and is found quite widely in dry grassy places. The small pincushion flowers are usually of a blue/lilac colour, but pink forms are sometimes found. It is a member of the teasel family. Two other scabious grow in Northamptonshire: the small scabious (Scabiosa columbaria) and the devilsbit scabious (Succisa pratensis), which is of a much deeper blue/purple and which prefers damper ground. The learned people who are responsible for the classification of plants – they are called taxonomists – no doubt have good reasons for allocating so many different generic names to the group – Scabiosa, Knautia, Succisa, Cephalaria, Jasione – but it’s a little confusing isn’t it?

The name ‘scabious’ comes from the itchy skin condition scabies. Apparently the plant was once prescribed as a treatment for this, because of its rough stalks.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Text by George Metcalfe. Photos by Colin Wootton.