Field scabious (Knautia arvensis)

Field scabious

Knautia arvensis


  • Field scabious is a perennial, taproot forming plant found in grassy ecosystems.
  • Each plant has one or more unbranched stems, growing up to 1.5m tall.
  • Flowers are clustered in composite heads appearing as a single flower at the end of the stems.
  • The few leaves are hairy with varied shapes ranging from elliptical to toothed.

Consequences of invasion

  • Field scabious can spread rapidly in open areas, which can impact hay production and rangeland.
  • The spread of this plant also reduces the growth of native plants.

How was it introduced? How does it spread?

  • This plant was introduced to North America from Europe for ornamental use.
  • The plant spreads by seeds, with each plant producing up to 2000 seeds in late summer.
  • The seeds primarily drop to the ground surrounding the parent plant, but can also be dispersed by animal or human activity.


  • The most important management option is prevention – do not use this plant for ornamental purposes, CKISS has many resources to help you choose non-invasive alternatives for your garden.
  • Maintaining rangeland with healthy cover species can prevent this plant from establishing.
  • Once established, mowing, discing or otherwise removing the flowers before seed production is effective although several years of treatment will be required.
  • Due to the deep tap root, it is difficult to remove the entire plant. Tap roots left in the ground will re sprout, so preventing the plant from going to seed is the easiest long term management option.
  • Field scabious can cause skin irritation, so wear long sleeves and gloves when working with this plant.
  • Dispose of flowers/seed heads securely: All landfills within the RDCK and RDKB accept invasive plant species for free. Ensure your material is bagged in clear plastic bags and notify the attendant that you have invasive plant species. Plants must be identifiable through the bag. For more information please see the RDCK Resource Recovery Bylaw.

More Information Available

ISCBC Fact Sheet
Alberta Invasive Species Council

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