This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol3", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Herbs, similar to Scabiosa, with opposite leaves, the flowers in long-peduncled heads, subtended by a several-many-leaved involucre. Scales of the receptacle herbaceous or capillary. Involucels grooved, the margins 4-lobed or 4-toothed. Calyx-limb 5-toothed or 5-awned. Corolla oblique, 4-5-lobed. Stamens 4. Achene crowned with the persistent calyx. [From the Latin, to bite off, the rootstock in some species being short and blunt]
About 4 species, mostly natives of southern Europe. Type species Scabiosa Succisa L.
Perennial, puberulent or pubescent, at least above; stem slender, branched, 1 1/2°-3° high. Basal leaves oblanceolate to oblong, mostly obtuse, 4'-12' long, the petiole often as long as the blade or longer; stem leaves distant, lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, entire, or toothed, short-petioled, or the upper sessile, acute or acuminate; heads of pale blue-purple flowers long-peduncled, rather less than 1' in diameter, oblong-ovoid in fruit; receptacle scaly, the scales about as long as the glabrous, 8-ribbed involucels or longer; calyx 5-toothed; achene crowned with 5 calyx-teeth.
Fields and meadows. Naturalized from Europe in Pennsylvania, central New York and Massachusetts. Pincushion-flower. Summer.