Botanical Name : Succisa pratensis
Species: S. pratensis
Synonyms: Ofbit. Premorse Scabious, Scabiosa succisa.
Common Names: Devil’s-bit or Devil’s-bit Scabious
Habitat : Succisa pratensis is distributed throughout the British Isles, western and central Europe, extending eastwards into central Asia. It is absent from eastern Asia and North America. It grows in wet or dry grassland and heath on acid or basic soils.It grows in meadows, pastures, marshes, fens and damp woods on slightly acid or calcareous
Succisa pratensis is a perennial herb up to 1m tall, growing from a basal rosette of simple or distantly-toothed, lanceolate leaves. Its unlobed leaves distinguish it from Field scabious,. The plant may be distinguished from Greater Knapweed by having its leaves in opposite pairs, not alternate as in knapweed. The bluish to violet (occasionally pink) flowers are borne in tight compound flower heads or capitula. Individual flowers are tetramerous, with a four-lobed epicalyx and calyx and a four-lobed corolla. Male and female flowers are produced on different flower heads (gynodioecious), the female flower heads being smaller. The flowering period is from June until October….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
The florets composing the head are all very much the same size, the outer ones being scarcely larger than the inner. The stamens of each floret, as in the other species of Scabious are a very conspicuous feature, the anthers being large and borne upon filaments or threads that are almost as long again as the corolla. The root is, when fully grown, nearly the thickness of a finger, and ends in so abrupt a way as almost to suggest that it had been bitten off, a peculiarity that has given it a place in legends. In the first year of the plant’s existence the root is like a diminutive carrot or radish in shape; it then becomes woody and dies away, the upper part excepted; as it decays and falls away, the gnawed or broken look results. The portion left throws out numerous lateral roots, which compensate for the portion that has perished. The plant derives its common name from this peculiarity in the form of the root.
‘The greater part of the root seemeth to be bitten away; old fantastick charmers report that the divel did bite it for envie, because it is an herbe that hath so many good vertues and it is so beneficial to mankinde.
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, preferring damp conditions, in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a moist peaty soil. Hardy to about -20°c. Grows well in the summer meadow, it is an excellent bee and butterfly plant and a food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly species.
Seed – sow April in a cold frame. Germination is usually rapid, but the seedlings are prone to damp off so make sure they are well ventilated. Prick them out into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Plant them straight out into their permanent positions.
Edible Uses: Young shoots is eaten raw. The tender young shoots are sometimes added to spring salads
Part Used in medicine: The whole Herb.
The herb is anthelmintic, demulcent, depurative, slightly diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, mildly expectorant, febrifuge and stomachic. It makes a useful tea for the treatment of coughs, fevers and internal inflammations and is also a popular application externally to eczema and other cutaneous eruptions. A tincture of the plant is a gentle but reliable treatment for bruises, aiding quick re-absorption of the blood pigment. The whole herb is collected in early autumn and dried for later use. Good results have been achieved by using a distilled water from the plant as an eye lotion to treat conjunctivitis
The whole herb being collected in September and dried.
It makes a useful tea for coughs, fevers and internal inflammation. The remedy is generally given in combination with others, the infusion being given in wineglassful doses at frequent intervals. It purifies the blood, taken inwardly, and used as a wash externally is a good remedy for cutaneous eruptions. The juice made into an ointment is effectual for the same purpose. The warm decoction has also been used as a wash to free the head from scurf, sores and dandruff.
Culpepper assigned it many uses, saying that the root boiled in wine and drunk was very powerful against the plague and all pestilential diseases, and fevers and poison and bites of venomous creatures, and that ‘it helpeth also all that are inwardly bruised or outwardly by falls or blows, dissolving the clotted blood,’ the herb or root bruised and outwardly applied, taking away black and blue marks on the skin. He considered ‘the decoction of the herb very effectual as a gargle for swollen throat and tonsils, and that the root powdered and taken in drink expels worms.’ The juice or distilled water of the herb was deemed a good remedy for green wounds or old sores, cleansing the body inwardly and freeing the skin from sores, scurf, pimples, freckles, etc. The dried root used also to be given in powder, its power of promoting sweat making it beneficial in fevers.
The SHEEP’S (or SHEEP’S-BIT) SCABIOUS (Jasione montana) is not a true Scabious, though at first sight its appearance is similar. It may be distinguished from a Scabious by its united anthers, and it differs from a Compound Flower (Compositae, to which the Scabious belongs) in having a two-celled capsule. It is a member of the Campanulaceae, and is the only British species. The whole plant, when bruised, has a strong and disagreeable smell.
Other Uses: A green dye is obtained from the leaves.
It is a good source of nectar and is the foodplant of Marsh fritillary, whose eggs are laid in groups on the underside of the plant, and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth Hemaris tityus. As both plant and invertebrates are rare, their survival relies on careful management of sites containing these species.
The aim is to produce an uneven patchwork of short and long vegetation by the end of the grazing period, between 8 and 25 cm (3.1 and 9.8 in). This is to allow the devil’s bit scabious food plant to grow.This can be achieved through low intensity grazing (also known as extensive grazing) using cattle. Sheep are not so good as they are more efficient at removing wild plants.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.