Pincushion Flower, Mourning Bride, Mournful Widow, Sweet Scabious 'Black Knight'

Scabiosa atropurpurea

Family: Caprifoliaceae (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info) (cap-ree-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Scabiosa (skab-ee-OH-suh) (Info)
Species: atropurpurea (at-ro-pur-PURR-ee-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Black Knight
Synonym:Scabiosa maritima



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Scarlet (Dark Red)

Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


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

Arroyo Grande, California

Burlingame, California

Citrus Heights, California

Clinton, Connecticut

Lula, Georgia

Southborough, Massachusetts

Mount Vernon, Missouri

Greensboro, North Carolina

Fremont, Ohio

Portland, Oregon

Kalama, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 7, 2012, Kimmi023 from Portland, OR wrote:

This is my first summer with this plant and I'm in love. I have her in a deck box in full sun and it's wonderful to watch the progression of each bloom as it evolves from a tiny, spiky pincushion into a full, soft black poof with white accents. I'll let you know how hardy she is in Portland, Oregon, zone 8b.


On Mar 12, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Beloved since the early 1600s in England, when it was called Blackamoor's Beauty and Mournful Widow. The sumptuous dark maroon flowers resemble a dark satin pincushion studded with white-tipped pins. Honey-scented flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Annual; 3 ft tall
Seed to bloom: 16 wks
Color: Maroon
Full sun
Soil: Rich, moist, well-drained, neutral to alkalin pH
Hardiness: HA


On Jan 27, 2007, northgrass from West Chazy, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

The very dark and white dotted bloosoms are very attractive, they have a brightness not expected in such a dark flower. The blooms are held high above the foliage. I had planted them in front of the bed, a better way would be in the middle ground, peeking above other lower plants, it would also help to keep them upright. Easy from seeds.