CORNFLOWER (Centaurea cyanus)

WCornflower

Europe


Loved by gardeners & painters of medieval manuscripts, the Cornflower’s deep BLUE flowers bloom like jewels from June to midsummer. This wildflower likes full sun & dislikes chalky ground. It will grow in soils that are sandy, gravelly or poor.

Sarah Raven's seeds cornflower crop

Bees’ Favourite.

Various bees, day-flying moths such as the Six-spot Burnet & other insects frequent the flowers of Centaurea cyanus.

https://beehappyplants.co.uk/bee-plants/centaurea-cyanus/

 

 

The Cornflower was unwelcome in the cornfields, where its tough stems blunted farmers’ scythes, earning it the name ‘Hurt-sickle’.

Other names: Barbeau, Bleuet, Blue-blaw, Bluebonnets, Bluebottle, Bluebow, Break-Your-Spectacles, Brushes, Corn-binks, Corn Bottle, Cyani Blossoms, Flor Celeste, Ladder Love and Loggerheads (some said it resembles a weapon of that name, an iron ball at the end of a stick).

Cornflower with insect

 

Centaurea cyanus was chosen for Ecostac, a study into Functional Agro-Biodiversity by Defra. From 2008 to 2013 this trial, under Prof Felix Wackers of Lancaster University, tested to see which flowering plants are best at attracting insects to field margins for crop pollination and natural pest control.

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus): An excellent all-rounder, this species should benefit birds, bees, hoverflies, parasitic wasps and pest natural enemies alike. With the added benefit of extra-floral nectaries it is hoped that this and other annual species will self-seed to form a permanent feature of the sward.’

http://www.ecostac.co.uk/seed_list.php

Cornflowers & Poppies, London House Sparrow Parks Project planting, Islington

Cornflowers & Poppies, London House Sparrow Parks Project, Islington

Cornflower and Potentilla September 2016

 

Wikipedia says this wildflower had been found growing on 264 sites in the UK; these have now dwindled until it is to be found on only three sites. Conservation charity Plantlife lists the Cornflower as one of 101 species it would like to see brought ‘Back from the Brink’.

The Cornflower has close associations with political parties in several European countries. Edward Alleyn, proprietor of Marlowe & Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre on Bankside, London, was especially fond of Centaurea cyanus. At the school he founded, Dulwich College, every student wears a buttonhole of Cornflower on the annual Founder’s Day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurea_cyanus#External_links

Cornflower was named centaurea from the legend of the centaur Chiron, who was wounded by an arrow poisoned with the blood of the Hydra. He covered his wound with its blue flowers, which have retained their healing properties.”

GREEN MAGIC – FLOWERS, PLANTS and HERBS in LORE and LEGEND, Lesley Gordon