It is a pleasant surprise to come across a host of mauve flowers blooming in the veld – these ones are out later than usual, probably because of the long drought we have endured: Wild Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria) usually finishes flowering by the end of February and blooms again from August. The seasons have been out of kilter for a while though, so we enjoy what we can see, whenever it appears. I am referring to the pale spots you see here in the open grassland:
Wild Scabious occurs over most of South Africa, growing in grasslands, on rocky slopes and in bushveld habitats.
Look how intricate the flower heads are:
According to http://pza.sanbi.org/scabiosa-columbaria the name scabiosa is, as you might guess, derived from the Latin word scabies meaning ‘to scratch’ as in medieval times this plant was believed to relieve the itch of scabies and skin sores. The epithet columbaria, comes from the Latin for ‘a dove’, referring to the flower colours, which range from white through to a pale pink to mauve.
One can purchase various cultivated forms of these wild flowers, all of which are attractive to bees and butterflies.