A lovely annual plant with quite large pink-purple flowers. Formerly a common grain weed that caused problems due to its toxicity. Currently rare, becoming less and less, and requires protection for preservation. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
€1,50 – €3,50
Polish name: field weed, in folklore crow peas, field curved weed, grain carnation, grain campion, blackie
Latin name: Agrostemma githago L.
Family: the pink family Caryophyllaceae
Status in Poland: established already in the Neolithic together with the first cereals, now rare in crops, more frequent thanks to flower meadows
Common corn-cockle is an annual plant with strong upright shoots of very different heights (from 5 to over 150 cm, usually 30-120 cm) and pink or purple flowers.
The shape of the common corn-cockle’s root is spindle-shaped and strongly branched is as long and thick as the stem.
The stem is oppositely foliaged, erect, less often sparsely branched, gray-green due to the hairiness.
The leaves are also covered with soft, short, whitish bristles. They fuse at the bases, are devoid of stipules, simple, linear-lanceolate, acute at the apexes.
Flowers are formed individually at the tops of the stems, usually only 2-3 per one specimen, but sometimes more than 10, even 50 per individual. The flower of the common corn-cockle is divided into a calyx and a corolla.
The fruitof the common corn-cockle is an ovate capsule covered with long tubular remains of the calyx, opening with five lobes.
The fully ripened seeds are black, dull, slightly angular, kidney-shaped or tetrahedral. Similarly to the common poppy and cornflower, also the seeds of the common corn-cockle keep their full viability in the soil for many years, despite the use of herbicides.
The common corn-cockle will grow in most types of soil, except for the most dense with long-stagnant water. It grows slightly better in barren, permeable substrates, poor in both humus and mineral salts, but grows well in sandy, gravel, loamy, clay, gypsum and limestone soils.
In the garden, you can support the common corn-cockle with something so that it does not bend (lodging).
Picking or cutting off overblown flowers extends the life of the entire plant, but deprive us of seeds for the next year.
If the capsules are left and the ground is dug, the common corn-cockle will regenerate itself well in the next years.
Both simple farmers and scientists – naturalists strongly associated the common corn-cockle with a plant belonging to another family, but also a weed with similar, black and big seeds: black cumin Nigella.. The father of modern botany and systematics of living organisms, Charles Linnaeus, created the Latin name of the common corn-cockle from the name of black cumin: “git (h)” is the name of black cumin in medieval Latin and German, the ending “-ago” means “similar, resembling”, so the Latin “githago” literally means “similar to black cumin”.
In the past, more species of corn-cockles were distinguished than today. The large-seeded populations from southern Europe were treated as “large-seeded corn-cockle”. Populations accompanying the sowings of flax, with seeds smoother and finer than those growing with cereals, were described as “flax corn-cockle”.
In Poland, as in the whole Eurasia, the common corn-cockle were first of all a very harmful weed (not only decreasing yield, but also poisoning people, horses, and cattle). However, it was purposefully breeding as an ornamental and a healing plant, and it also played a role in the rituals of our people.
Gardeners have grown many beautiful ornamental varieties, for example: ‘Sakuragai’, ‘Rose of Heaven’, ‘Purple Queen’, ‘Milas’, and ‘Ocean Pearl’.
Like other plants accompanying sowing, less and less common in Europe, also common corn-cockle is found more and more often in mixtures for flower meadows, butterfly gardens, and bee pastures.
There is less research on the melliferousness of common corn-cockle than on its relatives: campions and catchflies.
It is probably a pretty good source of nectar, especially in late summer and early fall when fewer species bloom than in spring.