- Name also: Blue Bonnets, Blue Buttons, Blue Daisy, Iron Flower, Sheep’s Scabious, Sheep’s Bit-scabious, Sheepbit
- Family: Bellflower Family – Campanulaceae
- Growing form: Biennial, sometimes annual or perennial herb. Taproot unbranched, sometimes scale-like, rhizomatous.
- Height: 10–50 cm (4–20 in.). Stem ascending–erect, usually branching, sharp-edged, basal part hairy, upper part leafless.
- Flower: Regular (actinomorphic), 6–15 mm (0.24–0.6 in.) long. Corolla pale blue, occasionally pink or white, fused, 5-lobed. Corolla initially narrow, funnel-shaped, lobes initially united, separating later from base, corolla star-shaped when fully open. Calyx fused, 5-lobed, lobes narrowly triangular, sharp. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels, stigmas blue, salient. Inflorescence a dense umbel with over 100 flowers, 15–25 mm (0.6–1 in.) wide, base with scale-like subtending bracts. Umbels alone at the end of long stems.
- Leaves: Alternate, basal leaves short-stalked, stem leaves stalkless. Leaf blade linearly lanceolate–narrowly obovate, with entire margins–sparsely shallow-toothed, with wavy margin.
- Fruit: Quite round, 5-edged, strongly veined, capsule opening from tip.
- Habitat: Rocky outcrops, sandy areas, hillsides.
- Flowering time: July–August.
- Endangerment: Vulnerable.
Sheep’s-bit scabious is rare and grows sporadically in southern Finland. There are fragmented stands further north, and the northern limit of its habitat is probably Liperi, where there is a feral stand. Sheep’s-bit belongs to the south and has spread to Finland during the Littorina climate, particularly with oak. Plants that are able to thrive at the limit of their habitat like dryish, sunny rock-tops and hills, and it can find a lot of suitable places. Sheep’s-bit does not seem to have exploited human activity in Finland, but in southern Swedish moors it is a common weed on ditch banks and beside highways. It is regionally endangered in Finland.
At first glance flowering sheep’s-bit scabious resembles plants from the Daisy family or devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis). Even the base of the inflorescence can have one or several whorled scale-like upper leaves – a clear feature of true capitulum. The inflorescence is however umbellate and the individual flower structure is campanulate: the flowers are regular (actinomorphic), the calyx is five-toothed, the corolla is initially tubular and five-lobed, and there are five stamens. The species can be differentiated from genus Campanula plants by the two-leaved gynoecium and the way that the capsule opens along two cracks in the tip.
Shepherd’s Scabious (Jasione Perennis)
World-wide 18 species in genus Jasione are known. A real natural shepherd’s scabious is extremely rare in Finland, introduced during wars and home from Middle-Europe. It looks a lot like sheep’s-bit scabious The first location in Finland was Kuusamo, but the species has been found also from Pirkanmaa. Both scabious species are also ornamentals and seeds can be bought from garden shops. The third scabious, possible in Finland is Jasione crispa but so far it has been happy in gardens and no escapes have been informed.