Small Scabious - Scabiosa columbaria


Short to medium, much branched, hairy plant. Basal leaves oval to lanceolate, unlobed or pinnately lobed, long stalked. Upper leaves 1 to 2 pinnately lobed or pinnate. Flowerheads bluish lilac, 20 to 40 mm, the outer florets slightly longer than the central ones, with dark bristles at the bases. Bracts narrowly lanceolate, shorter than the florets.

Similar Species

Field Scabious and Devil's-bit Scabious

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Corolla is 5-lobed (other scabious are 4-lobed); outer flowers longer than inner; stems leaves pinnate and lower leaves can be obovate or pinnatifid or in-between.  Nearly always in limestone areas

Recording advice

A photo of whole plant showing leaves as well as flowers


Grassy places on dry calcareous soils.

When to see it

July and August.

Life History


UK Status

Local, scattered throughout Britain as far north as central Scotland.

VC55 Status

Local and quite uncommon in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 6 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current checklist (Jeeves 2011) it is listed as Native; occasional, but nearly scarce.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map