Devil's Bit Scabius, Succisa pratensis
The Devil's-Bit Scabious, is a perennial flowering plant in the honeysuckle family, growing up to 1m tall, found in meadows, pastures, marshes, fens and damp woods throughout Europe and North Africa. Species of Scabious were traditionally used to treat scabies, and other afflictions of the skin including the sores caused by the bubonic plague. The plant's common name derives from it's short black root, which folklore dictates was bitten off by the Devil, as he was angry at the plant's ability to cure these ailments he'd worked so hard to create - an interesting story to tell your kids! 👿
The young shoots and leaves of this plant can be eaten raw, and we often add them to salads. They have a pleasant tang, with a slightly bitter aftertaste, so some sweet salad dressing wouldn't go amiss!
Devil's Bit Scabius Checklist
🌊 Waterways, including banks of rivers, lakes and streams.
🐑 Grassland, including paddocks, fields and damp meadows.
🌞🍂 May - Oct
☘️ Simple, lance-shaped leaves growing from a rosette. Younger leaves have a more defined toothed edge, but this mellows as the leaf grows becoming a vague wavy edge.
🌷 The distinctive and beautiful blue-purple pincushion flowerhead is ball-shaped and consists of numerous, tiny four-petalled flowers.
🌱 The flower stem is smooth, round and green with a single flowerhead at the top.
Fruit / Seeds
🍏 After flowering small black berries form on the stems which resemble blackcurrants.
☘️ Young Leaves
Aroma / Taste
👃 Indistinct Aroma
👅 The leaves are slightly bitter and used predominantly as a salad green.
🟩 ID Difficulty - Beginner
👀 The very distinctive pincushion flowerheads are the key identifier of this plant.
🥗 Salad - Young leaves can be eaten raw and added to salads.
💊 Herbal Remedy - Scabia were often used to treat scabies and other parasites (which is where they get their name) and is still in use as a herbal remedy today.