Succisa pratensis / Blauwe knoop

Succisa pratensis.

Devil’s bit, premorse scabious, scabious, ofbit, Teufelsabbiss (German), succise des prés (French), sscabiosa mordida (Spanish), stúfa (Icelandic), djævelsbid (Dansih).


The plant grows wild in Europe, North Africa and western Siberia. It was introduced to northeastern North America where it has strayed and become part of the wild flora. The plant mostly prefers moist habitats in open woodland, grassland, rocky shores, moors and bogs. It is seldom found above the timberline (a geographic boundary beyond which trees cannot grow).


Devil’s bit scabious is a perennial plant of the Dipsacaceae, or teasel family. It’s usually 25 to 60 cm high and has short and thick rhizomes that end abruptly as if they were cut or bitten off. The bare stems have few leaves, which are narrower than the base leaves and are toothed or lobed. The flower heads sit on long shafts and are blue or violet-blue (rarely pink or white). The fruits, which are 5 mm long, have hairy nuts that are encased in an outer cup. The plant blooms from August to September.

Plant Parts Used

It’s usually the rootstock (rhizome) of the plant that’s used in herbal medicine, but sometimes the flowers and leaves are also used. The rhizomes are collected in spring or after flowering in the autumn, while the leaves and the flowers are collected when the plant is in bloom. The herb can be dried for later use.

Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Devil’s Bit Scabious

Devil’s bit scabious contains tannins, saponins, glycosides, starch, caffeic acid and mineral salts.

The plant was formerly known by the Latin name “scabiosa succisa” which refers to how the herb was used in the past to treat scabies (an itchy skin infection caused by mites). “Succisa” means bitten off or cut off, and refers to the shape of the root. The name originates from folklore that says that the devil got so upset over the medicinal properties of the plant that he bit off a piece of the root so it would lose its power to heal. This legend reflects the English common name devil’s bit scabious.

The herb was probably used first as an herbal medicine in Europe in the Middle Ages, and for a while at least it enjoyed a great reputation as healing plant. In that time the plant was known by the name “herba scabiosa”, meaning “scab plant”. But it was not only used to treat scabies, but also to treat external wounds, poisonous insect bites, ringworm, thrush, intestinal worms, epilepsy and gonorrhea. It was even believed that someone could be cured of the plague by using the herb’s root.

Devil’s bit scabious was used as a medicinal herb well into the 1900s, but it’s rarely used in modern-day herbal medicine. Some herbalist still use a decoction made from the rootstock to treat coughs, sore throat,bronchitis, fever and internal inflammation.

The thick, glossy leaves were once used to dye wool green.

It seems very likely that topical use of the fresh plant is effective in relieving itchy skin problems, but whether the plant has antimicrobial qualities or an immune strengthening effect is not yet proven.

There have been no scientific studies made that show whether the herb has any medicinal effect, but that does not necessarily mean the herb can’t be useful as a medicinal herb. In the meantime, the plant has to be judged on its history and traditional use.

Dosage and Administration

To make a tea, take 1 to 2 g of the dried, crushed root and cook it in cup of boiling water. It can be taken three to four times daily. A tincture is often prepared from 1 part dried and chopped roots to 10 parts 60 percent alcohol.

Possible Side Effects and Interactions of Devil’s Bit Scabious

There seems to be no information available when it comes to the side effects or contraindications of devil’s bit scabious, but it is considered unlikely there any risks associated with using the herb in reasonable doses.

Gebruik vlgs Pfaff database

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.

Young shoots - raw[7]. The tender young shoots are sometimes added to spring salads[7].

Medicinal Uses

Anthelmintic; Demulcent; Depurative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Stomachic.

The herb is anthelmintic, demulcent, depurative, slightly diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, mildly expectorant, febrifuge and stomachic[4, 7, 9]. It makes a useful tea for the treatment of coughs, fevers and internal inflammations and is also a popular application externally to eczema and other cutaneous eruptions[4, 7]. A tincture of the plant is a gentle but reliable treatment for bruises, aiding quick re-absorption of the blood pigment[7]. The whole herb is collected in early autumn and dried for later use[4]. Good results have been achieved by using a distilled water from the plant as an eye lotion to treat conjunctivitis[7].


[4] Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin 1984 ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.

[7] Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald 1984 ISBN 0-356-10541-5

Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.

[9] Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn 1981 ISBN 0-600-37216-2

Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.

Grieve 1930: ---Medicinal Action and Uses---This plant is still used for its diaphoretic, demulcent and febrifuge properties, the whole herb being collected in September and dried.

It makes a useful tea for coughs, fevers and internal inflammation. The remedy is generally given in combination with others, the infusion being given in wineglassful doses at frequent intervals. It purifies the blood, taken inwardly, and used as a wash externally is a good remedy for cutaneous eruptions. The juice made into an ointment is effectual for the same purpose. The warm decoction has also been used as a wash to free the head from scurf, sores and dandruff.

Culpepper assigned it many uses, saying that the root boiled in wine and drunk was very powerful against the plague and all pestilential diseases, and fevers and poison and bites of venomous creatures, and that 'it helpeth also all that are inwardly bruised or outwardly by falls or blows, dissolving the clotted blood,' the herb or root bruised and outwardly applied, taking away black and blue marks on the skin. He considered 'the decoction of the herb very effectual as a gargle for swollen throat and tonsils, and that the root powdered and taken in drink expels worms.' The juice or distilled water of the herb was deemed a good remedy for green wounds or old sores, cleansing the body inwardly and freeing the skin from sores, scurf, pimples, freckles, etc. The dried root used also to be given in powder, its power of promoting sweat making it beneficial in fevers.

The SHEEP'S (or SHEEP'S-BIT) SCABIOUS (Jasione montana) is not a true Scabious, though at first sight its appearance is similar. It may be distinguished from a Scabious by its united anthers, and it differs from a Compound Flower (Compositae, to which the Scabious belongs) in having a two-celled capsule. It is a member of the Campanulaceae, and is the only British species. The whole plant, when bruised, has a strong and disagreeable smell.

Volgens Dodonaeus


Dit kruid wordt in de apotheken Morsus Diaboli genoemd, in Hoogduits Teufels abbitz, in onze taal duivels beet, in Frans mors de diable. Door sommigen tegenwoordig in Latijn Succisa en anders zijn er tegenwoordig geen namen bekend.


Duivelsbeet is warm en droog van naturen, gelijk de scabiosen.

Kracht en Werking.

  • Duivelsbeet die met de wortels in wijn gekookt en gedronken wordt is goed tegen alle ziekten en gebreken waar scabiosa goed toe is en vooral de pest.

  • Duivelsbeet ook in wijn als voor en gekookt verdeelt en laat het bloed scheiden dat in het lichaam door stoten, vallen etc. gestold is.

  • Groene duivelsbeet die met de bloemen en wortels gestampt is maakt rijp en geneest de pestachtige klieren en blaren als je het daarop legt.

  • De wortels die in wijn gekookt en gedronken worden zijn goed tegen de pijn en smart van de baarmoeder en tegen allerhande venijn.