Cornflowers are quite popular decorative plants, but they also grow in the wild. Many people like them for their looks and nice scent, although their smell isn’t really strong.
Hundreds of kinds
There are more than 730 species of cornflowers in the world. However, many of them are so similar that only a botanist can distinguish them. Most kinds of these plants grow only in the wild but some are cultivated in gardens only. By the way, the blue cornflower, also known as “the bachelor’s button”, is a symbol of Estonia since 1968.
In the name of the cornflower
Numerous toponyms are named after these flowers, mostly in Slavic countries. There are over 30 villages named “Cornflowers” (in local languages) in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. This plant was always well known and popular in that region.
Many people like cornflowers for their bright color. In the past, these flowers were used to make natural dyes from them. The paint obtained as a result of their processing was later used for dyeing fabrics.
Lots of colors
Most people think that all cornflowers are blue, cyan, or purple. In fact, there are plenty of these flowers in other colors, including white, red, and orange, although the most popular varieties of these plants are blue.
Cornflowers are weeds
Blue cornflowers are very widespread, they grow in many countries. Everywhere wherever the climate is suitable for them! They are beautiful, for sure, but they often grow in private gardens and cereal fields, so they are often called a weed. Btw, they grow even in the tundra.
They have a kinda spicy smell, pleasant but not too strong. The dried petals of these plants smell even stronger than fresh ones. Thanks to the bright inflorescences and this smell, these flowers have been so popular since ancient times.
Named in the 18th century
The cornflower got its name only in the XVIII century when it was classified by the famous naturalist Carl Linnaeus. Before that, various other names were used, mostly based on the word word “centauri” (centaur). According to one ancient Greek legend, the mythological centaur treated his wounds with cornflower juice after the battle with Hercules.
Practical use of cornflowers
Cornflowers are used in the medical and cosmetic industries. They have diuretic properties and most people like their fragrance. They are also used in the traditional medicine of different peoples, but researchers don’t confirm that they have any useful properties other than diuretics.
Just a fun fact
Cornflower is an annual plant, reaching 16-35 inches in height, with gray-green branched stems. The leaves are 0.4-2.6 inches (~1-4 cm) long. The petals are most often intense blue, collected in inflorescences with a diameter of 0.8-1.2 inches (1.5–3 cm), with a ring of several large, spreading ray inflorescences surrounding the central group of disc inflorescences.
Some people think that cornflowers are toxic to eat, but they are not. Moreover, chefs use them to decorate cakes and salads sometimes. However, their petals aren’t yummy, so nobody eats them anyway.