Jasione montana - Sheep's-bit

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asterales - Family: Campanulaceae

Sheep's-bit, Jasione montana

Some people refer to this wildflower as Sheep's-bit Scabious, but it is not closely related to true scabious species such as Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis, which belong to the Honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae.


This low-growing biennial has a basal rosette of narrow, pointed leaves from which arise slender stems bearing blue scabious-like compound inflorescences each comprising 50 to 200 tiny tubular campanulate blue flowers.

Jasione monta in southern France

Above: Jasione montana in southern France


Sheep's-bit is common in Britain and Ireland; it also occurs on mainland Europe, becoming increasingly scarce towards the northern part of Scandinavia and similarly the southern extent is limited to south-central Europe. The range extends eastwards into western Asia; elsewhere, including North America, it is an introduction.


This low-growing member of the Bellflower family prefers dry places. It is particularly common on clifftops and heaths, where it copes well with strong winds. Sheep's-bit favours acid soils and is so absent from calcareous substrates.

Jasione montana, Sheep's-bit on a coastal cliff

Blooming times

The first flowers appear in May and blooming continues into September. Sheep's-bit is usually at its best from late June until early August.

Sheep's-bit flowers

Similar species

Sheep's-bit is sometimes confused with Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis, a somewhat coarser but otherwise similar wildflower. The leaves of Sheep's-bit are long and narrow, while those of Devil's-bit Scabious are more oval. Although so similar in appearance these two wildflowers come from different families: Devil's-bit Scabious belongs to the Teasel family, Dipsacaceae, and its flowers are a darker blue than those of Sheep's-bit.

The specimens shown on this page were photographed on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, in west Wales, and in the Aveyron region of southern France.

Sue Parker's latest ebook is a revised and enlarged edition of Wild Orchids in The Burren. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Sue Parker's new ebook is a comprehensive and fully revised edition of her acclaimed field guide to the Wild Orchids of Wales. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Sue Parker's 5-star acclaimed field guide to the Wild Orchids of the Algarve is now available as an ebook. Full details here...

Buy it for just £5.95 on Amazon...

Wildflowers in the Algarve, an introductory guide, by Sue Parker

Sue Parker's revised and enlarged ebook second edition of the acclaimed Wildflowers in the Algarve - an introductory guide is now available.. Full details here...

Buy it for just £3.95 on Amazon...

Please Help Us: If you have found this information interesting and useful, please consider helping to keep First Nature online by making a small donation towards the web hosting and internet costs.

Any donations over and above the essential running costs will help support the conservation work of Plantlife, the Rivers Trust and charitable botanic gardens - as do author royalties and publisher proceeds from books by Pat and Sue.

© 1995 - 2024 First Nature: a not-for-profit volunteer-run resource

Please help to keep this free resource online...

Terms of use - Privacy policy - Disable cookies - Links policy