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

    MAP KEY:

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

    UK Map