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Don’t be fooled by this weed’s pretty flower

Noxious weeds: Field scabious

Field scabious was introduced as an ornamental from Europe and is now taking over roadsides and pastures. It can be found throughout central Alberta and has the ability to invade even undisturbed plant communities, such as hayfields. Once established it is very difficult to control.

Flowers can be a purple- to blue-coloured clustered head, resembling a chive flower. Hairy leaves form a rosette around the base and are deeply lobed. Field scabious can grow up to 1.5 metres tall, but can be very difficult to see from a distance, as it is so thin and spindly. This plant prefers nutrient-rich, moderately dry soils and develops a deep taproot that will compete with native grasses for resources.

The goal for control of this weed is to stop seed production. However, be careful when hand pulling because this plant will cause skin irritation and itching, so it is best to wear long sleeves and gloves. Field scabious is listed as noxious under the Alberta Weed Control Act and therefore must be controlled, meaning its growth or spread must be prevented.

For more information on this or any invasive plant, contact your local Agricultural Fieldman or the Alberta Invasive Species Council.

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