Scabiosa L. (incl. Sixalix Raf.)

In its current circumscription Scabiosa is an Old World genus with ca. 70 species. It is most diverse in Eurasia and the Mediterranean area, with some additional species in mountain regions in Africa. A single variable species is native in Belgium, S. columbaria L. (Lambinon & Verloove 2012). It includes subsp. pratensis (Jord.) Br.-Bl. (syn.: S. pratensis Jord.)
As a result of molecular studies the generic boundaries of Scabiosa have changed in the past decades. Lomelosia (incl. Pycnocomon) is now segregated (De Castro & Caputo 1997-1998, Caputo & al. 2004, Avino & al. 2009). Scabiosa s.str. differs from Lomelosia in involucel characters: the tube of the involucel has eight longitudinal grooves, whereas in Lomelosia there are eight apical pits.
Numerous species of Scabiosa are grown as ornamentals in Europe. Useful accounts are presented by Matthews (2000) and Jäger & al. (2008). Several of these have been recorded as escapes from cultivation. Records of S. columbaria from artificial habitats may include similar cryptic taxa. The identity of such plants should be critically re-assessed.

1. Corolla cream to yellow === Scabiosa ochroleuca

1. Corolla lilac blue to purple === 2

2. Head much elongating in fruit. Annual or biennial. Corona with 8 veins === S. atropurpurea

2. Head not elongating in fruit. Biennial or perennial. Corona with 16-24 veins (native) === S. columbaria


Avino M., Tortoriello G. & Caputo P. (2009) A phylogenetic analysis of Dipsacaceae (Dipsacales) based on four DNA regions. Pl. Syst. Evol. 279: 69-86. [available online at:

Caputo P., Cozzolino S. & Moretti A. (2004) Molecular phylogenetics of Dipsacaceae reveals parallel trends in seed dispersal syndromes. Plant Syst. Evol. 246: 163-175. [available online at:

Caputo P. & Del Guacho E. (2011) Transfer of Four Species of Scabiosa to Lomelosia (Dipsacaceae). Novon 21(4): 402-404.

De Castro O. & Caputo P. (1997-1998) A molecular reappraisal of Scabiosa L. and allied genera (Dipsacaceae). Delpinoa 39-40: 99-108. [available online at:

De Castro O. & Caputo P. 1999 [2001] A phylogenetic analysis of genus Lomelosia Rafin. (Dipsacaceae) and allied taxa. Delpinoa 41: 29-45. [available online at:

Jäger E.J., Ebel F., Hanelt P. & Müller G. (eds.) (2008) Rothmaler Band 5. Exkursionsflora von Deutschland. Krautige Zier- und Nutzpflanzen. Springer Verlag, Berlin: 880 p.

Jasiewicz A. (1976) Scabiosa. In: Tutin T.G. & al. (eds.), Flora Europaea, vol. 4. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 68-74.

Lambinon J. & Verloove F. (2012) Nouvelle Flore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des Régions voisines (Ptéridophytes et Spermatophytes). Sixième édition. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise: CXXXIX + 1195 p.

Matthews V.A. (2000) Scabiosa. In: Cullen J. & al. (eds.), The European Garden Flora, vol. 6. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 460-465.

Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith