Pincushion

Scabiosa atropurpurea L.

Synonyms - Scabiosa maritima

Family: Caprifoliaceae (was Dipsacaceae)

Names:

Scabiosa is from the Latin scabies because it was believed that it provided a cure for itches or scabs.
Atropurpurea
Pincushion because it has a bristly "pincushion" fruit.

Other Names:

Mournful Widow
Purple Pincushion
Scabiosa
Sweet Scabious

Summary:

Sparsely hairy, many branched, annual or perennial to 1 m tall with opposite, lobed or much dissected leaves and purple to white, compact flowers in spring to summer that form a bristly "pincushion" fruit.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two. Oval, more than 3 mm long. Tip slightly indented. Sides convex. Base tapered. Veins not prominent. Hairless.

First leaves:

Club shaped. Tip flat to slightly indented. Edges with forward pointing teeth. Base tapered. Prominent veins. Hairy.

Leaves:

Opposite.
Stipules - None.
Petiole - Basal leaves have a short petiole.
Blade - Oval to club shaped with toothed edges. Tip flat to round. Edges toothed. Base tapered. Sparsely hairy to hairless
Stem leaves - Oval in outline, 50-90 mm long x 10-20 mm wide, deeply lobed and the lobes are lobed or toothed. End lobe is larger than the 2-8 side lobes. Tip rounded to pointed. Base clasps stem. Sparsely hairy to hairless.

Stems:

Erect, up to 1000 mm tall, many branched.
Flower stem - Long, arising from leaf axils.

Flower head:

Many flowers in tight, convex clusters (or daisy like heads), 20-40 mm wide at the ends of long stems (scapes) that arise from the leaf axils. There are inconspicuous, narrow, hairy scales between the flowers on the common receptacle. The receptacle is surrounded by an involucre of lance shaped bracts that bend back with age. The head becomes rectangular in outline in fruit. Outermost flowers are the largest.

Flowers:

White to deep purple. Bisexual. Stalkless.
Ovary - Inferior, fused to the receptacle. 1 celled with 1 seed.
Style - threadlike, on top of the ovary. Nectary gland at the base of the style.
Stigma -
Epicalyx - bell shaped, 8 ribbed, ending in a short, spongy, papery, incurved crown.
Corona - short, papery, incurved, wavy and lobed.
Calyx - Tubular, 8 mm long, narrow ending in a short limb and 5 spreading awns with tiny barbs
Petals - White to red-purple, funnel shaped, 10 mm long with 4-6 spreading unequal lobes to 11 mm long.
Stamens - 4, stick out of corolla.
Filaments - Threadlike, attached near the top of the corolla tube, alternating with the petals.
Anthers - Parallel sided, 2 celled, opens by lengthwise slits.

Fruit:

Fruiting head is rectangular in outline, bristly and doesn't release its seed when ripe.

Seeds:

Cream to light brown, oval but square in cross section, bell shaped in plan, 2.5-3 mm long x 2-2.5 mm wide dry achene. Tip flat to concave with 5 spines 1-3 mm long. Base rounded to flat. Edges concave. Surface ribbed and hairy

Roots:

Taproot.

Key Characters:

Leaves exstipulate, opposite.
Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic.
Sepals connate into a calyx tube.
Petals connate into a corolla tube
Corolla lobes 5.
Epicalyx present.
Ovary inferior
4 stamens
Scales of the common receptacle small, weak and inconspicuous.
The flower head looks rather like the Asteraceae but it has free anthers and an outer calyx or epicalyx.
Adapted from John Black and Judy Wheeler.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual or short lived perennial herb or shrub. Seeds germinate from winter to spring.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

October to January in Perth, WA.
Spring and early summer in WA.
November to March in SA

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed and intentional plantings.

Origin and History:

Mediterranean.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate.

Soil:

Prefers coastal soils with free lime.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Ornamental.

Detrimental:

Weed of crops

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Symptoms:

Treatment:

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Manually remove plants escaping from gardens. Burn garden refuse or bury it more than 1 m deep.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Spray infestations with a mixture of 50 mL 2,4-D ester (800g/L) in 10 L water before flowering. Manually remove survivors before seed set and burn. Repeat until no more plants appear.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Wild Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) is in the same family.

Plants of similar appearance:

Poppies

References:

Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P160. Photo.

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P803. Diagram.

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Harden, Gwen J. (1991). Flora of NSW. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney). Volume . P. Diagram.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P142. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #889.1.

Marchant et al (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P648.

Moerkerk, M.R. and Barnett, A.G. (1998). More Crop Weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. P78. Diagrams. Photos.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.