The genus of Scabiosa - also known as pincushion flower - offers many different species and varieties to the cut flower gardener. Scabiosa gets its unfortunate name from the Latin word “scabere” meaning to scratch (although one flower farmer’s partner exclaims “Scabiosa!” and waves his imaginary magic wand every time he hears the word uttered). Romans may have used the plant to treat scabies and other skin conditions, explaining its name. Historically, scabiosa has been an ingredient in herbal medicines used by many people on the African continent to treat cough, fever and internal inflammation.
Annual Scabiosa are probably the most familiar to spot with their fluffy round heads in colors from snow white to deep black and everything in between. Perennial scabiosa is just as whimsical, comes in colors of whites, blues and yellows, and has slightly larger, flatter blooms on strong, wiry stems. Scabiosa is a “cut and come again” flower - it will reward you with blooms all season long if harvested regularly. Scabiosa flowers will last about a week in the vase before they begin to shatter (lose petals). But they leave an airy ornamental seed head behind that lends texture and sparkle to bouquets. If dried, the seed heads will last indefinitely and look great in a bud vase or massed in a minimally ornamented vase allowing their texture to shine.