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Field Scabious

Species
Knautia arvensis

Field scabious is a regionally noxious, perennial forb from Eurasia that has composite heads of velvet-blue to pinkish-purple, clover-like flowers at the ends of long stalks. The dense flowers are attractive to butterflies, and field scabious is often marketed to gardeners as a “butterfly plant.” The species easily escapes cultivation, however, and has become a serious invasive in drier parts of the province.

How does it spread?
Field scabious spreads mostly by seeds that either fall near parent plants or are moved by birds or people. A mature plant can flower until the end of summer and produce up to 2,000 seeds, and these can remain viable in the soil for many years.  Field scabious often escapes ornamental plantings and spreads to adjacent areas. Ants carry the seeds short distances, but further spread occurs when the bristly seeds stick to animal fur and bird feathers, or by water transport.

Where would I find it?
Field scabious prefers nutrient-rich and moderately moist to dry, loose, loamy soils. It is often found invading both disturbed and undisturbed plant communities and is seen growing in mid-elevation areas on roadsides, river banks, meadows, waste ground, light-filled forests, logged clearings, pastures and in burned over areas.

What problems does it cause?
Field scabious effectively competes with forage stands and native pastures, reducing hay production and carrying capacity, and is capable of invading undisturbed plant communities. Once established, field scabious is difficult to eradicate.

Additional Recommendations

  • Avens (Geum quellyon) (z4) 

A provincial initiative coordinated by ISCBC

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