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Jasione montana

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Campanulaceae (Bellflower)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, heathland, hedgerows, mountains, rocky places, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, walls.

Blue, 5 petals
Blue with yellow anthers, forming a compact round head.
A roundish, 5-sided, pointed capsule.
The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems. They are linear to narrowly egg-shaped and either short-stalked, or not stalked at all. The margins of the leaves are either untoothed, sparsely / shallowly-toothed, or wavy-edged.
Other Names:
Blue Bonnets, Blue Buttons, Blue Daisy, Iron Flower, Sheep's Scabious, Sheepsbit Scabious.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Jasione montana, commonly known as Sheep's-bit scabious, is a species of herbaceous perennial plant native to Europe and Asia. It is found in dry, rocky grasslands, hillsides, and heaths. The plant typically grows to a height of 30 cm tall, with an erect stem and small blue flowers that bloom in the summer. It is a hardy and drought tolerant plant, making it a good choice for rock gardens and xeriscaping. The leaves are small and narrow, and the plant forms a basal rosette. Jasione montana is often used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, but the plant should be considered toxic if ingested in large amounts.


Sheepsbit, scientifically known as Jasione montana, is a beautiful and delicate wildflower that belongs to the Campanulaceae family. It is native to Europe and can be found growing in meadows, grasslands, and rocky areas, particularly in mountainous regions.

Sheepsbit is a perennial plant that can grow up to 30 centimeters in height. Its stem is slender and erect, with fine, hairy leaves that are green in color and have a pointed shape. The flowers of Sheepsbit are the most striking feature of the plant. They are small, measuring about 1 centimeter in diameter, and are usually a vibrant shade of blue. However, some varieties may also have white or pink flowers. The petals are fused together to form a bell-shaped structure, which gives the flower its characteristic look.

Sheepsbit blooms in the summer, from June to September, and is a favorite of bees and other pollinators. The plant produces a nectar that attracts these insects, which in turn helps to spread the plant's pollen to other flowers, promoting the growth of new plants.

The Sheepsbit plant has been used for medicinal purposes in the past. It was believed to have healing properties for respiratory ailments and was used to treat conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. It was also believed to have diuretic properties, helping to increase urine flow and promote kidney function.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Sheepsbit has also been used for ornamental purposes. Its delicate flowers and bright blue color make it a popular choice for gardens, and it is often used in rock gardens, as well as in borders and wildflower meadows.

However, despite its beauty and usefulness, Sheepsbit is a plant that is becoming increasingly rare. It is listed as a protected species in many countries, and its populations have been declining due to habitat loss, overgrazing, and other environmental factors.

To help preserve the Sheepsbit plant, it is important to protect its natural habitat, particularly in mountainous regions where it is most commonly found. It is also important to avoid overgrazing and to limit the use of pesticides and herbicides in areas where the plant grows.

Sheepsbit is a beautiful and delicate wildflower that is a favorite of bees and other pollinators. It has been used for medicinal and ornamental purposes and is an important part of many natural ecosystems. However, due to its declining populations, it is important to take steps to protect this plant and its habitat to ensure its survival for future generations.

One interesting aspect of the Sheepsbit plant is its name. The name "Sheepsbit" is thought to come from the plant's resemblance to a sheep's tongue. This is because the leaves of the plant are long, narrow, and pointed, and the flower head is held high above them, creating the appearance of a tongue sticking out.

Another interesting fact about Sheepsbit is its relationship to the Campanulaceae family. This family includes many other familiar wildflowers, such as bellflowers, harebells, and lobelias. All of these plants are characterized by their bell-shaped flowers, which are formed by the fusion of their petals.

Sheepsbit is also an important plant in traditional European folklore. It was believed to have magical properties and was used in various spells and rituals. In some cultures, it was thought to bring good luck and prosperity, while in others it was believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits.

Despite its many uses and associations, the Sheepsbit plant is facing significant challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss and other environmental factors are causing its populations to decline, making it more important than ever to protect and preserve this beautiful and valuable plant. Conservation efforts, such as habitat restoration and the creation of protected areas, can go a long way in ensuring the continued survival of Sheepsbit and other threatened plant species.

In addition to its role in supporting pollinators, Sheepsbit is also an important food source for many animals. The leaves and flowers of the plant are a favorite of grazing animals such as sheep, goats, and cows. The plant's ability to survive in harsh mountain environments and to provide food for livestock makes it an important resource for many rural communities.

Sheepsbit is also used in some traditional medicines. It was believed to have antispasmodic properties and was used to treat muscle cramps, spasms, and other related conditions. It was also used as a diuretic, promoting the flow of urine and supporting kidney function.

Interestingly, Sheepsbit has also been used in some cultures as a natural dye. The plant contains a blue pigment that was extracted and used to color textiles, such as wool and silk.

Conservation efforts to protect Sheepsbit and other rare plants are important for several reasons. First, rare plants are often an indicator of the health of an ecosystem. The loss of a rare plant species can have a cascading effect on other plants and animals that depend on it. Second, rare plants often have unique properties and uses that can be lost forever if they disappear. Finally, preserving rare plant species helps to maintain the biodiversity of our planet, which is essential for the long-term health and survival of all living organisms.

In conclusion, Sheepsbit is a unique and important wildflower that plays a valuable role in supporting pollinators, providing food for livestock, and serving as a source of traditional medicine and dye. However, its declining populations are a cause for concern, and conservation efforts are needed to protect this plant and its habitat. By working together to preserve rare and threatened plant species, we can help to ensure the continued health and biodiversity of our planet for generations to come.


Sheepsbit filmed at Sandscale Haws in Cumbria on the 8th July 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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