Devils Bit Scabious is found growing in marshes, damp meadows, fens and woods. The flat rosettes of leaves can be mown or grazed and still survive. Flowering stems of up to 80cm are topped with the nectar rich, purple-blue pincushion flowers in early summer until autumn. Flowers provide nectar for bees and hoverflies and the caterpillar of the Marsh Fritillary butterfly eats the foliage. Leaves are quite rounded, shiny and leathery, to distinguish it from other Scabious. The seeds are eaten by goldfinches.
Best sown in the autumn, but benefits from a prechill of 4 to 6 weeks (mix with damp sand and put in the fridge, shake occasionally to aerate).
Historically the plant was used against bubonic plague and skin complaints, ‘Scabies’ being Latin for ‘scratch’. The ‘Devil’s Bit’ name comes from the appearance of the roots – they have a chopped-off look, said to have been bitten by the devil to spite the Virgin Mary
Seed from Shropshire