Sheep’s-bit Jasione montana

Description

The bright blue round heads of sheep’s-bit are eye-catching amongst the turf on cliff tops and maritime grasslands. Although resembling a scabious, it is in fact a member of the bellflower family. 

How to spot it

Small heads of densely packed blue flowers are borne above a rosette of narrow leaves, sometimes with a wavy edge.

Where it grows

Mostly found in coastal grasslands, but may occur inland on heathland, walls and banks. Predominantly found in south-west England, Wales, Cumbria and south-west Scotland.

Best time to see

Flowers from June to August

How's it doing?

Populations in central, eastern and south-eastern England have declined during the last century, possibly due to the loss of lowland heaths and the growth of coarser vegetation following a decline in rabbit grazing.

3 things you might not know

  • The flowers are rich in nectar, and therefore attractive to bees and butterflies.
  • The plant get its name from the fact that sheep enjoy eating it.
  • It is often known as ‘blue buttons’ due to the shape of its flower heads.