Every year an endangered wild flower is chosen by the Loki Schmidt Foundation in Germany, with the aim of raising awareness to it and its habitat.
Some of my favourites have been chosen over the years; Hepatica nobilis in 2013, Cichorium intybus in 2009, Cardamine pratensis in 2006, Caltha palustris in 1999 and Pulsatilla vulgaris in 1996 – to name just a few.
This year the chosen flower is a close relative to one I have growing in my rockery, and is not only one of my favourites – the insects, bees and butterflies love it too.
The above photo from Wikimedia Commons is the Succisa pratensis, but all the following photos are of its close cousin Succisa inflexa, a cultivated version that is extremely happy in my well-drained soil despite supposedly being a moorland, heathland and riverbank plant. The pale blue to violet flowers of this perennial herb appear from July onwards and can still be seen in the south of Germany growing wild. But the in the north this plant has become very rare due to loss of habitat: drainage of damp meadowland for agricultural or building purposes along with the over-fertilisation of fields have led to its decline.
My Succisa inflexa ‘Frosted Pearls’ is very pale, almost white with an icy violet tinge…
The common name, Devil’s-bit, actually refers to the roots that die off at the end and look as if they have been bitten off. Succisus is in fact latin for “bitten off below”. In the same family as Scabious, folklore claimed that the devil bit off the Succisa roots in his anger at them being used (apparently succesfully) for treating skin disorders.
I must admit I haven’t inspected the roots of mine, but will definitely take a look this year as they are spreading rapidly, just like Scabious, and some will have to be uprooted.
Succisa flowers are an excellent source of nectar for bees and butterflies, and the plant is also a food source for some caterpillars…
This is a Summer Map (Araschnia levana) butterfly, photographed in 2012…
You can read more on the English Wikipedia page about the Flower of the Year Campaign here.
Seeds can be ordered here: jelitto.com
or here: beehappyplants.co.uk
And I also posted about this plant way back in August 2012, here.
Is there a wildflower in your region that is threatened? Which one would you choose as a “Flower of the Year” in your country to raise public awareness to it?