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Field Scabious

Knautia arvensis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Dipsacaceae (Teasel)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, roadsides, scrub, seaside, wasteland.

Blue, 4 petals
Lilac blue and pink anthers. The 4 petal-lobes are unequal, in particular on the larger and outermost flowers. Two unequal rows of sepal-like bracts, oblong in shape. Petals become larger nearer to the outside of the flowerheads, unlike with Devil's-bit Scabious. The tops of the flowerheads are hardly domed at all, unlike Devil's-bit Scabious which has round flowerheads, and Small Scabious which is more domed than Field Scabious.
A hairy, cylindrical, nut-like fruit (an achene), up to 6mm in size.
The greyish-green leaves are opposite along the stems. They are softly haired and short-stalked or not stalked at all. Their margins can be either toothed or untoothed. The stem leaves are usually pinnately lobed. These lobes are narrow and a large terminal lobe is present on each leaf.
Field Scabious, a native wildflower in the UK, has a delicate, sweet-scented fragrance. The flower emits a subtle, pleasant aroma that often attracts various pollinators, adding to its charm in the wild.
Other Names:
Bachelor's Buttons, Blue Bonnets, Blue Buttons, Field Scabiosa, Gipsy Rose, Lady's Cushion, Lady's Pincushion, Meadow Widow Flower, Pincushion Flower, Pins and Needles, Small Scabious.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Knautia arvensis, also known as field scabious or small 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, deep red, violet or pink 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.


Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis, is a wildflower that is native to Europe and western Asia, but is now found in many other parts of the world. It is a member of the family Dipsacaceae, which also includes other familiar wildflowers such as teasels and the scabious. Field Scabious is a very attractive plant with pretty flowers that make it a favorite of gardeners and wildflower enthusiasts.


Field Scabious is a perennial plant that can grow up to 60cm tall. It has hairy, branching stems that are topped by pretty flowers in shades of blue, pink, or white. The flowers are about 2cm across and have a distinctive pincushion shape that is typical of scabious flowers. They are made up of a central disc of tiny florets surrounded by larger, more showy ray florets. The leaves of Field Scabious are dark green and lobed, with a slightly hairy texture.


Field Scabious can be found in a wide range of habitats, from meadows and pastures to woodland edges and hedgerows. It prefers well-drained soils and can be found in full sun or partial shade. It is a hardy plant that can withstand both drought and frost.


Field Scabious is an important plant for wildlife. The flowers provide nectar and pollen for a range of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. The seeds are also eaten by birds, particularly finches. The leaves are the food source for the caterpillars of the Six-spot Burnet moth, which is a common day-flying moth in the UK.


Field Scabious is a relatively easy plant to grow and is a great choice for a wildflower garden. It can be propagated by seed or by division in the spring or autumn. It prefers well-drained soil and a sunny position. Once established, it will self-seed freely and form large clumps. Field Scabious is also a great addition to a wildflower meadow, where it can help attract pollinators and other wildlife.


In traditional medicine, Field Scabious has been used to treat a range of ailments, including wounds, skin infections, and digestive problems. It is thought to have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. However, it should be noted that there is little scientific evidence to support these claims.

In conclusion, Field Scabious is a beautiful and useful wildflower that is a great addition to any garden or wildflower meadow. It provides food and habitat for a range of wildlife and is a great choice for those looking to create a more natural and sustainable garden.

More Information

One of the interesting features of Field Scabious is its ability to adapt to different environments. It is a versatile plant that can grow in a variety of soil types, from sandy to clay, and in different moisture levels. In the wild, it is often found growing in disturbed areas such as roadsides, hedgerows, and meadows, as well as in more natural habitats.

The flowers of Field Scabious are particularly attractive to pollinators, and they are an important source of nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, and other insects. The plant's long blooming season, from early summer to early autumn, means that it provides a consistent source of food for these creatures throughout the season.

In addition to its value as a wildlife plant, Field Scabious is also a popular ornamental plant. It is often used in garden borders and wildflower meadows, where it provides a splash of color and a naturalistic feel. Its low maintenance requirements and hardiness make it an easy plant to care for, even for novice gardeners.

One of the interesting things about Field Scabious is that it has a number of common names, reflecting its different uses and associations. In addition to Field Scabious, it is also known as Blue Buttons, Pincushion Flower, and Gypsy Rose.

In terms of its historical uses, Field Scabious has been used for a variety of purposes over the years. In traditional medicine, it was used to treat a range of ailments, including coughs, colds, and fevers. It was also used as a digestive aid and a diuretic. The plant has also been used for dyeing, with the flowers producing a range of shades from pink to blue.

Overall, Field Scabious is a versatile and valuable plant that has much to offer both wildlife and gardeners alike. Its attractive flowers, hardiness, and adaptability make it a great choice for a range of different settings, and its ability to support a diverse range of wildlife means that it is an important part of our natural environment.

In terms of the scientific classification of Field Scabious, it belongs to the genus Knautia, which is named after the German botanist Christian Knaut. The species name, arvensis, means "of the field" in Latin, reflecting its natural habitat.

One interesting aspect of Field Scabious is that it has a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi live in association with the plant's roots, forming a mutually beneficial partnership. The fungi help the plant absorb nutrients from the soil, while the plant provides the fungi with carbohydrates produced through photosynthesis. This relationship is common among plants and is believed to be an important factor in the success of many plant species.

Another interesting aspect of Field Scabious is its role in traditional folklore. In some parts of the UK, the plant was believed to have magical powers, and it was often used as a charm to ward off evil spirits or protect against the evil eye. In some areas, it was also believed that carrying a sprig of Field Scabious would bring good luck and ensure a successful harvest.

In conclusion, Field Scabious is a beautiful and valuable plant that has much to offer both gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts. Its hardiness, versatility, and adaptability make it an easy plant to care for, and its attractive flowers and long blooming season make it a popular choice for gardeners. At the same time, its importance as a food source for pollinators and other wildlife means that it plays a vital role in supporting biodiversity and maintaining healthy ecosystems.

While Field Scabious is generally considered to be a beneficial plant, there are some cases where it may become problematic. In some areas, it has been identified as an invasive species, and it can outcompete native plants for resources. This is particularly true in areas where the plant is not native and has no natural predators or diseases to keep it in check. In such cases, efforts may be made to control the plant's spread and prevent it from displacing native species.

Despite this potential downside, Field Scabious remains an important and valuable plant for a variety of reasons. Its adaptability and hardiness mean that it can thrive in a range of environments, and its importance as a food source for pollinators and other wildlife make it an essential component of healthy ecosystems. Whether you are a gardener looking for an easy-to-care-for plant or a nature lover interested in supporting biodiversity, Field Scabious is a plant worth knowing and appreciating.

In terms of cultivation, Field Scabious is a relatively low-maintenance plant that is well-suited to a range of growing conditions. It can be grown from seed, and once established, it is a long-lived perennial that can persist for many years. It is also self-seeding, so it can spread naturally in the garden.

When planting Field Scabious, it is best to choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. The plant prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil pH and can tolerate drought once established. It is a good choice for wildflower meadows, herbaceous borders, and cottage gardens, where it can add color and texture to the landscape.

If you are looking to attract pollinators to your garden, Field Scabious is a great choice. Its nectar-rich flowers are particularly attractive to bees, butterflies, and other insects, making it an important source of food for these creatures. In addition, it is a good choice for gardeners looking to support wildlife more broadly, as it provides habitat for a range of beneficial insects and other creatures.

In terms of maintenance, Field Scabious is a relatively low-maintenance plant that requires little care once established. It does not typically require fertilization, and in fact, too much fertilizer can lead to excessive growth and reduced flowering. Deadheading the plant regularly can help to prolong the blooming season and prevent self-seeding if desired.

Overall, Field Scabious is a versatile and valuable plant that has much to offer both gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts. Its hardiness, versatility, and attractiveness to pollinators make it an excellent choice for a range of garden settings, and its importance as a food source for wildlife means that it plays an essential role in maintaining healthy ecosystems.


Video 1: Field Scabious filmed at Scout Scar, Cumbria on the 16th July 2022.


Video 2: Field Scabious filmed at the following locations, featuring a Marbled White Butterfly and Six-spot Burnet Moth:
  • Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire: 24th June 2023
  • Bourton-on-the-water, Gloucestershire: 26th June 2023
  • Daneway Banks, Gloucestershire: 27th June 2023

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