Field Scabious – Kirkforthar, Fife


Whilst photographing the storm clouds at the back of Kirkforthar at the end of August this year, I couldn’t resist stopping for five minutes to take a few photos of these Field Scabious flowers.


Field Scabious Flower Head

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) – Flower Head

These beautiful flowers were once used to treat Scabies, hence the rather ugly name of Scabious plants. The flower heads of Field Scabious, and it’s similar close relative, the Devil’s Bit Scabious, were also used to treat the sores caused by the Bubonic Plague. Devil’s Bit Scabious, is so called, because according to folklore, the devil was said to have bitten off the flower’s black roots (leaving a very short root), in an attempt to kill the plant because it was being used to try to treat the plague victims.


Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) Flower Head - Black and white version

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) Flower Head – Black and white version


Field Scabious Flower Bud

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) Flower Bud


Field Scabious is also sometimes called by the much prettier name of the Gypsy Rose.


Field Scabious Seed Head

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) Seed Head


The Latin name for Field Scabious is Knautia arvensis, the genus of the plant being named after the 17th century botanist and physician Christian Knaut.


8 thoughts on “Field Scabious – Kirkforthar, Fife

  1. Scabious is rather an ugly name and Field Rose is much prettier. I’ve always loved scabious, but I hadn’t connected it with scabies, although it sounds obvious now I know. How valuable it must have been to people in by-gone days of plague, and even just for treating cold sores. I love the story behind the name of Devil’s Bit Scabious. Fears and superstitions played a part in so much of life in past times. Beautiful photos of the different stages of the flower and great b/w picture.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The reason for the name “scabious” was news to me too. “Pincushion flower” is much nicer. The bees absolutely love mine, which is a good thing in the city.

    Liked by 1 person

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