(The generic name, Knautia, is derived from a Saxon botanist of the seventeenth century, Dr. Knaut. The name Scabious is supposed to be connected with the word ‘scab’ (a scaly sore), a word derived from the Latin scabies (a form of leprosy), for which and for other diseases of a similar character, some of these species were used as remedies.)
Common Name :Field Scabious
Habitat : Knautia arvensis is native to Europe, including Britain, north to latitude 69°, east to the Caucasus and W. Siberia.It bis found in meadows, pastures, hedgebanks and grassy hills, usually on dry soils and especially on limestone.
Knautia arvensis is a perennial plant that grows between 25 and 100 cm. It prefers grassy places and dry soils, avoiding heavy soils, and flowers between July and September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It is noted for attracting wildlife. The flowered head is flatter than similar species Devils bit scabious and Small Scabious. There are 4 stamens in each flower, and 1 notched long stigma.
The fruit is nut like, cylindrical and hairy, 5–6 mm in size.
It has a tap root. The stem has long stiff hairs angled downwards. There are no stipules.
The leaves form a basal rosette, are paired on the stem, the lowest typically 300 mm long, spear shaped, whereas the upper are smaller.
It is occasionally used by the Marsh Fritillary as a foodplant instead of its usual foodplant of Devils Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis). It is also the foodplant of the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Hemaris tityus.
It is hardy to zone 6.
Succeeds in any well-drained soil. Prefers a dry soil. Grows well on chalky soils. Prefers a sunny position. A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to at least -25°c. Grows well in the summer meadow. The plant is an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and lepidoptera. The plants are sometimes dioecious, if this is the case then male and female plants will need to be grown if seed is required.
Seed – sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have enough seed it would be worthwhile trying a sowing in situ outdoors in the spring. The seed germinates in the spring in the wild. Division in the spring. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
Part Used: Herb.
The whole plant is astringent and mildly diuretic. An infusion is used internally as a blood purifier and externally for treating cuts, burns and bruises. The fresh or dried flowering plant can be used, with or without the roots. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used as a blood purifier and as a treatment for eczema and other skin disorders.
Gerard tells us: ‘The plant gendereth scabs, if the decoction thereof be drunke certain daies and the juice used in ointments.’ We are told that this juice ‘being drunke, procureth sweat, especially with Treacle, and atenuateth and maketh thin, freeing the heart from any infection or pestilence.’ Culpepper informs us also that it is ‘very effectual for coughs, shortness of breath and other diseases of the lungs,’ and that the ‘decoction of the herb, dry or green, made into wine and drunk for some time together,’ is good for pleurisy. The green herb, bruised and applied to any carbuncle was stated by him to dissolve the same ‘in three hours’ space,’ and the same decoction removed pains and stitches in the side. The decoction of the root was considered a cure for all sores and eruptions, the juice being made into an ointment for the same purpose. Also, ‘the decoction of the herb and roots outwardly applied in any part of the body, is effectual for shrunk sinews or veins and healeth green wounds, old sores and ulcers.’ The juice of Scabious, with powder of Borax and Samphire, was recommended for removing freckles, pimples and leprosy, the head being washed with the same decoction, used warm, for dandruff and scurf, etc.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider