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PlantFiles: Devil's Bit Scabious
Succisa pratensis

Family: Caprifoliaceae (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info) (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Succisa (suk-KEE-suh) (Info)
Species: pratensis (pray-TEN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Scabiosa succisa

7 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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1 positive
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive JenDion On Oct 15, 2014, JenDion from Litchfield, NH (Zone 5b) wrote:

Undemanding, blue flowers in Sept/Oct in my zn. 5 garden

Neutral CBLagoon On Feb 14, 2013, CBLagoon from Chicago, IL wrote:

Invasive plants are also mentioned on the USDA website and based on its distribution, this plant is most likely NOT native.

Neutral smiln32 On Sep 24, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

According to the USDA's Plants Database, this plant is also native to the U.S. growing in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Neutral Baa On Sep 25, 2002, Baa wrote:

A perennial plant from Europe, Russia and parts of Northern Africa.

Has rosettes of slightly hairy, mid-deep green, oblong-ovate basal leaves. Bears clustered heads of tiny, blueish lilac flowers very rarely pink or white. Each flower head is of a single sex, the female being slightly smaller than the male.

Flowers July-October

Loves clay or peaty, slightly fertile, acid to alkaline soils in sun or light shade. It requires the soil to be moist at least half of the year if not all the time (it flowers much better in damp soils).

Incredbily useful for nectar seeking insects and has a faint honey scent.

The plant has a number of common names but the most well known is Devil's Bit. This name comes from the legend that the Devil found the plant growing and was so envious of it's usefulness to man as a herb, he bit off part of the root in an attempt to stem it's growth. It didn't work and the plant freely spreads where happy, the root (not suprisingly considering the legend) is short, thick and ends abruptly.

The plant was used as a cure all in the past. Today you may find various concotions of Devil's Bit for the treatment of mild fevers and to purify the blood. It was and is still used to help treat various skin problems including acne, persistant sores and dandruff.

A superb plant for a wildflower garden, it copes very well with mowing (except when flowering!) but won't stand too much in the way of tall grass competition (which I know to my detriment)


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Litchfield, New Hampshire
Port Norris, New Jersey

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