GIANT SCABIOUS

Cephalaria gigantea

Teasel Family [Dipsacaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZneophyte
flower
flower8cream
flower
flower8yellow
morph
morph8actino
morph
morph8hemizygo
petals
petalsZMany
petals
petalsZ4
type
typeZclustered
stem
stem8round
sex
sexZbisexual

6th Aug 2015, nr Rowsley, White Peaks. Photo: © RWD
growing way higher than your Author and the hedges. Here only two or three left in flower; the rest having turned to fruit.


6th Aug 2015, nr Rowsley, White Peaks. Photo: © RWD
The domed fruits with a flattish bottom.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
A perennial which grows to 2m, much taller than any other Scabious.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Has a pale-yellow flower atop each long stalk.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Flowers about 40 - 100mm across, much larger than any other Scabious.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Like Field Scabious has florets with long petals around the periphery and numerous much smaller florets in the centre, but it does not belong to the Daisy Family (Asteraceaee).


1st July 2014, a garden, Parwich, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Here central florets yet to open. The ones further out have opened and are displaying their stamens with large anthers.


1st July 2014, a garden, Parwich, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The florets all have four petals.


1st July 2014, a garden, Parwich, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The anthers are attached to the stamen like handles on wine-bottle openers. Anthers often twisted and with a rectangular cross-section.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The bracts at the back of the flower are chocolate-brown with long hairs. The stems have short hairs.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
Petals falling off, turning to fruit.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The developing fruit has triangular dark-brown bracts all over like a pin-cushion.


1st July 2014, a garden, Parwich, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
Fruits more developed.


1st July 2014, a garden, Parwich, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
The fruits have grown almost as long as the interspersing triangular bracts.


6th Aug 2015, nr Rowsley, White Peaks. Photo: © RWD
The fruits are elongated box in shape with a green hemi-rounded top which has many long and short hairs. The 4 sides are very pale green, almost white, concolourous with the stalks.


6th June July 2016, a garden, Warton, Carnforth.. Photo: © RWD
An as-yet un-opened flower bud, sepal bracts showing just around the periphery, interstitial bracts separating the florets.


1st July 2014, a garden, Parwich, Derbyshire. Photo: © RWD
An as-yet un-opened flower bud a month later in the season, sepal bracts showing just around the periphery, interstitial bracts separating the florets. The petals (pale green at first) are just starting to emerge from between the outer bracts.


17th June 2014, a garden, Warton, Lancs. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are 1-pinnate, with long lanceolate leaflets, in opposite pairs, the leaflets having somewhat irregular teeth.


6th Aug 2015, nr Rowsley, White Peaks. Photo: © RWD
They are very distinctive with their wings looking like tapering flanges on the stem as it tapers to the 'trefoil' leaf at the end.


6th Aug 2015, nr Rowsley, White Peaks. Photo: © RWD
Fascinating broadening wings on the rachis of the pinnate leaf.


6th Aug 2015, nr Rowsley, White Peaks. Photo: © RWD
The leaves have forward-pointing but blunt teeth on their edges, which here have a reddish border. The leaf stems are also reddish.


6th Aug 2015, nr Rowsley, White Peaks. Photo: © RWD
The last leaflet of the trefoil leaf partially overlaps te side-leaves, another distinctive feature.




POSSIBLY Cephalaria leucantha?


On account of it being somewhat shorter, with smaller flowers which are white rather than cream coloured
[This species is not listed in Stace]

14th Aug 2020, a garden, Greater M/cr. Photo: © Judy Samuel
A specimen with a somewhat whiter and smaller inflorescence. Unopened flower bud on right. Your Author wonders if it is possible that this apparently smaller whiter specimen (rather than pale yellow) from Judy Samuel is instead the related Cephalaria leucantha. It shares the same common name as Giant Scabious, but has a differing binomial name; Cephalaria leucantha and appeared all of a sudden in Judys' garden in the year 2020, so it is possibly bird-sown and therefore perhaps a candidate for future inclusion in Staces' tomb 'New Flora of the British Isles'.


14th Aug 2020, a garden, Greater M/cr. Photo: © Judy Samuel
Unopened flower bud with dark-brown bracts.


16th Aug 2020, a garden, Greater M/cr. Photo: © Judy Samuel
Unopened flower bud from the top.


14th Aug 2020, a garden, Greater M/cr. Photo: © Judy Samuel
The leaves are most distinctive with opposite leaflets smaller near the root and much larger towards the summit, which is terminated by 3 leaflets, the end one the largest of them all. The only difference in the leaves that your Author has noticed is that the leaf teeth here are larger and far fewer in number with large gaps between the teeth.


14th Aug 2020, a garden, Greater M/cr. Photo: © Judy Samuel
Moreover, the leaves have tapering narrow wings which get wider the further along the stem they are. The leafless leaf stem nearer the ground still has a very narrow wing. The leaflet teeth are irregular - with this specimen having far fewer but larger teeth than the specimen from the garden in Warton above.


Cannot be mistaken for : any other Scabious because of its tall 2m height and large pale-yellow flowers.

Some similarities to : Small Teasel (Dipsacus pilosus) but that is shorter at 1.5m and has white flowers with long thin and narrow bracts which are yellow-green. The leaves are also very different.

Slight resemblance to : Yellow Teasel (Dipsacus strigosus) which also has yellow florets but they are interspersed by long thin narrow bracts which are green.

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature :

A garden plant that also sometimes escapes into the wild from where it may escape and persist in scattered places on waste ground or on rough grassy places, although your Author has never seen it growing wild.

There is a shorter Cephalarea called Syrian Scabious which is commonly grown in gardens, Cephalaria syriaca but at only 1m that is half the height and has blue flowers. This can also escape.

Although its common name is a Scabious, all those belong to differing genera, although they all reside in the Teasel Family (Dipsacaceae)

Note that Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria), Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis), Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) and Giant Scabious (Cephalaria gigantea) all belong in differing genera (although all four reside in the same Dipsaacaceae family).


USE BY BUTTERFLIES
LAYS EGGS ON CATERPILLAR CHRYSALIS BUTTERFLY
Adonis Blue
Marbled White


A SIMPLE ALKALOID

Giant Scabious contains a simple alkaloid called Gentianadine, which is also found in Gentiana turkestanorum, a non-native Gentian. Gentianidine is a pyridine moiety (on the right) fused to an Oxan-2-one moiety (left). It is a lactone.
It also contains eight cytotoxic triterpenoid saponins of the Oleanane type known as Giganteosides, being Giganteoside A-E and Giganteoside L, M and N.

These should not be confused with a double glycoside of Quercetin called Gigantoside A, which was found in Giant Scabious in 2006, along with Luteolin, Quercetin plus Cinaroside, and Quercimeritrin, the latter two being single glycosides of Flavonols.


  Cephalaria gigantea  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Dipsacaceae  

Distribution
 family8Teasel family8Dipsacaceae
 BSBI maps
genus8Cephalaria
Cephalaria
(Giant Scabious)

GIANT SCABIOUS

Cephalaria gigantea

Teasel Family [Dipsacaceae]