Scabiosa columbaria can be distinguished from the two similar scabious species (knautia arvensis and succisa pratensis) by having flowers with five lobes rather than four.
Main flower color:
England and Wales; commonest in the south
Up to 70 cm
Dry grassland, especially on calcareous soils
Flat-topped clusters, up to 3 cm in diameter, of several dozen flowers, which have tubular corollas opening to five lobes. Flowers are largest around the edge of the cluster. At the base of the corolla are a calyx of dark bristles, seen most easily underneath, where the bristles project beyond the narrow bracts at the base of the cluster. Bracts and stems have a covering of appressed hairs
Basal leaves, in a rosette, are coarsely lobed or toothed, with a large end lobe, while stem leaves are also pinnate, with narrower, more well-defined lobes
June to September