€5,50 – €23,25
Melliferous, rather tall perennial with violet flowers. Devil’s-bit is also a host species for native butterflies: gossamer-winged, forester moths, and fritillaries. It prefers locations with acidic and poor soil, and copes well in partial shade.
Polish name: meadow devil’s-bit
Latin name: Succisa pratensis
Family: the teasel family Dipsacaceae
Status in Poland: native species, permanently established, rare, but not legally protected
Low to medium-high perennial. The underground rhizome is bulbous, but short, as if bitten or cut, rich in tannins, saponins, and alkaloids. Stems erect, branching, hairy upside, and glabrous to the roots, opposite decussate foliaged. Massive, ovate or elliptical-lanceolate leaves, usually entire-margined, less often slightly serrated, the upper ones sessile, and the lower petioled.
Single flowers are protandrous, composed of an epicalyx, a calyx, and a corolla. The shape of the head changes with age from semicircular to flatter.
Nut-type fruits , quadrangular, strongly ciliated, up to 5 mm long.
Devil’s-bit likes moist places with acidic and poor in minerals soil.
Perfectly tolerates partial shade.
Contrary to the Polish name, the devil’s-bit, almost always grows smaller than the rarer, protected southern succisella Succisella inflexa (which Polish name is “Kluk’s small devil’s-bit”). The most important, apart from the southern succisella, a food plant for caterpillars of the protected and rare marsh fritillary, known in Germany as “devil’s-bit fritillary”.
The generic name of this herb is identical in most European languages. It refers to the medieval legend about a plant created by the Mother of God for those suffering from the plague so that they could heal themselves, and make their confessions on time. The enraged devil plucked the plant from the ground and eat almost the entire bulbous root. Despite this, God ordered the plant to continue to grow, despite losing most of the root. In memory of this event, the underground organs of this flower look like a scrap of a root.
An exquisite honey species, very attractive for honeybees, solitary bees, and bumblebees. It also attracts butterflies with its light violet, or sometimes blue-violet color. For years, this perennial has been used as an undersown crop by beekeepers.
Devil’s-bit nectar is eaten by, among others, Alkon blue, and six-spot burnet, and small pearl-bordered fritillary among the more common lepidopterans.