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Giant Scabious

Cephalaria gigantea

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Dipsacaceae (Teasel)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2.2 metres tall
Grassland, meadows, wasteland.

Yellow, 4 petals
Yellow, globular flowerheads, between 4 and 10cm across.
A hairy, cylindrical, nut-like fruit (an achene).
Pinnately lobed basal leaves. Wiry branched. Erect perennial and clump-forming.
Other Names:
Giant Kephalaria, Giant Pincushion Flower, Yellow Scabious.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Cephalaria gigantea, also known as giant scabious or giant kephalaria, is a perennial herb that is native to the Balkans and Greece. It is a member of the Dipsacaceae family and typically grows to be about 150-220 cm tall. The plant has large, yellow flowers that bloom in the summer and early autumn. The plant has pinnate leaves. It is commonly found in meadows, pastures, and grassland. It is also used in cultivation as wildflowers, and for ornamental purposes. The plant is also a popular nectar source for pollinators like bees and butterflies. It is less common in cultivation, as it requires well-draining soil and full sun to grow.


Giant scabious, scientifically known as Cephalaria gigantea, is a herbaceous perennial plant that is native to Central Asia, Caucasus, and Iran. It is widely grown in gardens and natural landscapes for its beautiful, towering presence and unique blooms.

Appearance and Growth Habits

The plant can grow up to 7 feet tall and has a sprawling, bushy appearance. Its long stems are lined with pinnately divided leaves that form a beautiful, airy structure. The plant blooms in midsummer, producing large, spherical heads of yellow flowers that can measure up to 4 inches across. Each flower head contains dozens of small, tubular flowers that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.


Giant scabious is a hardy plant that prefers full sun or partial shade and well-draining soil. It is tolerant of drought and can thrive in a variety of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. The plant should be planted in the spring or fall and spaced at least 2-3 feet apart. It can be propagated through division or by sowing seeds in the fall or early spring.


Giant scabious is primarily grown for its ornamental value. It adds height and structure to garden beds and borders and is often planted in groups or as a focal point. The plant also makes an excellent cut flower and can be used in floral arrangements. In addition, its seeds are a valuable food source for birds, making it a useful plant for attracting wildlife to gardens and natural areas.

Medicinal Benefits

Cephalaria gigantea has long been used in traditional medicine for its antipyretic and analgesic properties. Its root extract has been used to treat fever, headache, and pain. Additionally, the plant contains compounds that have been shown to have antitumor and antimicrobial properties, making it a potential source of new drugs.

In conclusion, Cephalaria gigantea, or Giant scabious, is a stunning perennial plant that is easy to grow and adds value to any garden or natural area. Its tall stature and unique blooms make it a favorite among gardeners, while its medicinal benefits and wildlife value make it a useful plant beyond just its aesthetic appeal.

More Information

Cephalaria gigantea is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family, which also includes honeysuckle and viburnum. It is also known by other common names such as tall scabious and giant scabiouswort.

The plant is a magnet for pollinators, attracting bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects to the garden. Its abundant nectar and pollen provide an important food source for these insects, making it an excellent plant for supporting the local ecosystem.

Giant scabious is also valued for its architectural qualities, adding structure and height to garden beds and borders. It can be planted in a variety of garden styles, from traditional cottage gardens to contemporary urban landscapes.

In terms of maintenance, Cephalaria gigantea requires minimal care. It is a hardy plant that can survive extreme temperatures and requires little watering once established. Deadheading the spent flower heads can help to prolong the blooming season and promote new growth.

Cephalaria gigantea is a versatile and striking plant that is well-suited to a wide range of garden styles and applications. Its beauty, ease of care, and wildlife value make it a valuable addition to any garden or natural landscape.

One interesting feature of Cephalaria gigantea is its relationship with the soil. The plant is known to form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi, which are beneficial soil microorganisms that help plants absorb nutrients and water from the soil. These fungi also help to increase soil health and structure, which can benefit the overall health of the garden or landscape.

Another notable aspect of Cephalaria gigantea is its resistance to pests and diseases. The plant is relatively immune to common garden pests such as aphids and spider mites, and is not susceptible to most plant diseases. This makes it an excellent choice for gardeners who want to minimize their use of chemical pesticides and herbicides.

Cephalaria gigantea is also a plant with a rich cultural history. In traditional Iranian medicine, it has been used to treat a variety of ailments, from fevers to digestive issues. In Turkish culture, the plant is used in traditional handicrafts, such as the creation of woven mats and baskets.

Overall, Cephalaria gigantea is a fascinating and valuable plant that offers a wide range of benefits to gardeners, wildlife, and ecosystems. Its striking beauty, ease of care, and unique cultural history make it a plant that is both useful and aesthetically pleasing. Whether grown in a garden or as part of a natural landscape, Cephalaria gigantea is sure to provide years of enjoyment and value.