Devil’s-bit Scabious – a new plant for the Heath

Regular visitors say that they’ve never seen this plant on the Heath

The rounded and nodding, purple-blue flower heads of Devil’s-bit Scabious – Succisa pratensis – can be found in damp meadows and marshes, and along woodland rides and riverbanks. It is in bloom between July and October, its pincushion-like flower heads attracting a wide variety of bees and insects. It is also the food plant for the declining Marsh Fritillary butterfly, which is classified as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

Did you know that Devil’s-bit Scabious gets its Latin name from scabere – meaning to scratch – from its traditional use as a treatment for skin conditions such as scabies and the sores of bubonic plague. Its common name arises from the fact that its roots look truncated, as if bitten off, legend has it, by the Devil.

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