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Devilsbit Scabious

Succisa pratensis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Dipsacaceae (Teasel)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Fens, fields, grassland, heathland, hedgerows, marshes, meadows, mountains, rocky places, wetland, woodland.

Blue, 4 petals
Dark blue, purple or sometimes pink round flowerheads, up to 2.5cm across. Pink or purple anthers, green bracts. 4 petal-lobes. Field Scabious is similar but has flat-topped flowerheads. Small Scabious also has similar-looking flowers but these more closely resemble Field Scabious, however Small Scabious flowers are slightly more domed on top.
A cylindrical, hairy, nut-like fruit, up to 6mm in length.
Elliptical, dark green basal rosette of leaves, occasionally blotched with purple spots. The stems leaves are narrower and sometimes with toothed margins.
Other Names:
Blue Ball, Blue Buttons, Blue Caps, Blue Kiss, Blue Scabious, Curl Daddy, Devil's-bit, Fore-bit, Fore-bitten-more, Ofbit, Ofbitten, Premorse Scabious.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Succisa pratensis, also known as Devil's bit scabious, is a perennial herb that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Dipsacaceae family and typically grows to be about 30-80 cm tall. The plant has small, blue-purple, pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer and early autumn. The plant has pinnate leaves. It is commonly found in meadows, pastures, and damp, rocky areas. It is also used in cultivation as wildflowers, and for medicinal and ornamental purposes. It was traditionally used to treat a wide range of ailments, such as skin conditions, respiratory problems, and digestive issues.


Devilsbit Scabious, also known as Succisa pratensis, is a beautiful and unique wildflower that is native to Europe. It is a member of the teasel family and can be found growing in meadows, grasslands, and along the edges of forests. This plant is highly valued for its medicinal properties and is used to treat a wide range of ailments.

Appearance and Characteristics

Devilsbit Scabious is a perennial herb that grows up to 50 cm tall. It has a fibrous root system and a straight, unbranched stem. The leaves of this plant are lance-shaped and toothed, with a dark green color. The flowers are a deep shade of blue and grow in clusters at the top of the stem. The blooms are small and cylindrical, with four petals and a long protruding stigma. The plant blooms from July to October and attracts a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies.

Medicinal Properties

Devilsbit Scabious has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to ancient times. The plant is highly valued for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. It is commonly used to treat rheumatism, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. The roots of the plant contain a bitter substance called scabiosin, which has been shown to have a sedative effect and may be helpful for treating anxiety and insomnia.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, Devilsbit Scabious is also used as a diuretic and astringent. It is believed to be helpful in treating conditions such as urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and dysentery. The plant is also said to have a calming effect on the digestive system, making it useful for treating indigestion and other digestive complaints.

Conservation Status

Despite its numerous medicinal properties and its value as a food source for pollinators, Devilsbit Scabious is considered to be a threatened species in many areas. The loss of habitat due to urbanization and agricultural development has led to a decline in the number of plants in the wild. Additionally, the use of herbicides and pesticides has had a negative impact on the population of pollinators, which are essential for the plant's reproduction.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect and preserve Devilsbit Scabious and other threatened plant species. These efforts include the creation of protected areas, the establishment of seed banks, and the implementation of sustainable farming practices. By taking action to preserve these important plant species, we can help to ensure a healthy and diverse ecosystem for future generations.

In conclusion, Devilsbit Scabious is a unique and valuable plant with numerous medicinal properties. Its deep blue flowers and attractive foliage make it a popular choice for gardens and meadows. By working to protect and preserve this important plant species, we can help to maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem for all.

Cultural Significance

Devilsbit Scabious has played a significant role in European folklore and mythology. The name "Devilsbit" is said to come from the belief that the plant's roots were bitten off by the devil, who was angry at the plant's many medicinal properties. In some cultures, the plant was believed to have magical properties and was used in spells and rituals.

In addition to its folklore and mythology, Devilsbit Scabious has also been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It was often used to treat wounds, bruises, and other injuries, as well as digestive and respiratory ailments. The plant's bitter taste was also believed to have a purifying effect on the blood.

Gardening and Landscaping

Devilsbit Scabious is a popular choice for wildflower gardens and meadows. It is easy to grow and can thrive in a variety of soil types, although it prefers moist, well-drained soil. The plant is often used as a border plant or in mixed flower beds, where its deep blue flowers can provide a striking contrast to other colors. It is also a favorite of pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a valuable addition to any garden.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, Devilsbit Scabious is also a useful plant for soil conservation. Its deep root system helps to prevent erosion and improve soil quality. The plant is also tolerant of drought and can help to conserve water in dry regions.

Devilsbit Scabious is a fascinating and valuable plant with a rich cultural history and numerous medicinal properties. It is also an important species for the conservation of pollinators and soil health. By learning about and appreciating this unique plant, we can help to ensure its preservation and protect the biodiversity of our natural ecosystems.

Conservation Efforts

Devilsbit Scabious is listed as a protected species in many European countries, including the United Kingdom, where it is considered a priority species for conservation. Efforts to conserve this plant include the creation of protected areas and the restoration of degraded habitats. In some areas, conservation organizations have also been working with farmers to promote sustainable land management practices that support the plant's survival.

Seed banks are also an important tool for the conservation of Devilsbit Scabious and other threatened plant species. These banks collect and store seeds from a variety of plants, ensuring that their genetic diversity is preserved and that they can be propagated in the future.

Finally, public education and awareness are crucial for the conservation of Devilsbit Scabious and other threatened plant species. By raising awareness of the importance of these plants and the threats they face, we can encourage people to take action to protect them and their habitats.


Devilsbit Scabious is a unique and valuable plant with a rich cultural history and many medicinal properties. However, like many other plant species, it is under threat from habitat loss and other human activities. By taking action to protect and conserve this plant and other threatened species, we can help to maintain the biodiversity of our natural ecosystems and ensure a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations.


Devilsbit Scabious filmed at Clattinger Farm, Wiltshire on the 28th June 2023, and also at Malham Tarn Nature Reserve on the 29th July 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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