This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves entire or pinriatifid. Bracts of the involucre in one or two series. Receptacle convex or columnar, hairy or with scaly bracteoles shorter than the florets. Outer florets often larger. Calyx-limb cup-shaped, surmounted by four or more bristly teeth. The species are estimated at nearly 100. S. arvensis is a pretty native species with large flower-heads, lilac-blue, or rarely white.
1. S. atropurpurea (fig. 121), syn. Asterocephalus. Common Purple or Sweet Scabious.- A very pretty plant formerly very common in gardens. An annual species, 3 or 4 feet high, with very dark purple, rose, flesh, or white flowers according to the varieties. There is a 'double' variety in which all the florets are larger, and nearly regular, and also a dwarf race. East Indies.
Fig. 121. Scabiosa atropurpurea. (1/3 nat. size.)
Some of the perennial species are worth a place in large collections, as S. alpina with yellowish flowers, and S. Gauc-sica with bright blue or lilac.