Scabious, Field

Pest Images

Pest Information
Common Name: Scabious, Field
Family Name: Dipsacaceae (Teasel Family)
Latin Name: Knautia arvensis (L.) Coult.
Other Names: Blue Buttons, Gypsy’s Rose, Pincushion, Lady’s Cushion, Bachelor Buttons
Provincial Designation: Noxious
Life Cycle: Perennial
Mode of Spread: Seed

Detailed Information
Provincial Situation: Field scabious occurs in trace to low populations throughout the southern and central regions of Alberta.  It has not been reported in the Peace region of the province to date.  Field scabious is an increasing concern in the northeast and central regions of Alberta where populations are reported to be increasing.
Growth and Development (Life Cycle): Perennial.
Where it Grows (Habitat & Ecology): Field scabious prefers loose, loam soils that are nutrient rich and moderately moist to dry.  It can tolerate alkaline soils and will grow in semi-shade to no shade conditions.  It is commonly found along roadsides, in pastures, meadows and waste areas.
How it Spreads (Mode of Spread): Seed.
Reproduction (Dispersal): Seed can be dispersed by movement on vehicles, livestock or hay.
Economic Importance (Beneficial Aspects): Field scabious is used in herbal medicine as a blood purifier and as a treatment for eczema and skin disorders.  This plant is also an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies and in some areas is grown as an ornamental in gardens to attract butterflies.
Toxicity and Other Concerns: Field scabious is very competitive with forage stands and native pastures.  It can invade undisturbed range and can grow in dense patches that can out-compete grasses decreasing species diversity, hay production and livestock stocking density.  Animals will eat the plant when it is young (prior to bolting) but field scabious is unpalatable when mature and has little nutritional value for livestock.  Field scabious is a very effective competitor for light, moisture and nutrients and is very difficult to eradicate once established because of its’ prolific seed production and deep, branching taproot.  The plant is covered with hairs and forms rosettes that grow low to the ground that make chemical and mechanical control of this species difficult.
Origin: Europe. 
Seed Production: Field scabious can produce up to 2000 seeds per plant that may remain viable in the soil for several years.
Prevention: Maintaining pastures in a competitive condition through well managed grazing, fertilization and growing competitive species.  Re-seed disturbed areas as quickly as possible and using seed that has a “Certificate of Analysis” free of field scabious and other noxious weeds.  Work in uninfested areas first and clean equipment thoroughly when moving from infested areas.
Cultural Control: Hand pulling is not effective for controlling field scabious because of the difficulty in removing the long, branched roots.  If hand pulling small infestations of field scabious, ensure that as much of the root as possible is removed and continue to monitor the site for several years following.  The plant may reinfest the area from seed in the seedbank or from small pieces of root left in the ground.
Competition: Healthy stands of perennial grasses that have little disturbance and overgrazing can limit field scabious establishment.
Fertility: Promoting a healthy, competitive forage stand with adequate fertilization will help to control field scabious by helping the forage stand to out compete field scabious.  Fertilization may also enhance herbicide control and help grasses to compete following a herbicide application preventing a possible re-infestation.
Cultivation: Field scabious is not tolerant of cultivation and is generally a problem in cultivated fields.  Cultivating and rotating to an annual crop, where available, can help with control of field scabious.
Mowing: Mowing field scabious before seed set can reduce the amount of seed in the seed bank and prevent further spread of an infestation.
Grazing: Cattle will eat field scabious when it is very young so grazing pastures early will help with control of this plant.  Good grazing management that maintains pastures in a competitive condition will also help to prevent the establishment and spread of this plant.
Fire: No information available.
Bio-Control: No information available.

Pest Comments

<<Select Another Weeds

Last Modified: January 16, 2012

For more information about the content of this document, contact Ag-Info Centre