6,00 zł – 15,00 zł
The whites, headflower, blue button, cardoon, shaggy flower, stepmother, the blue, self-seeder, Basilie, twig In the past, cornflower was not only an inveterate weed, but also a multi-purpose cultivated species. An indispensable component of seed mixtures for meadows. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
Polish name: blue twig, twig, Basilie, self-seeder, the blue, the whites, headflower, blue button, stepmother
Latin name: Centaurea cyanus L.
Family: the asters Asteraceae (the composites Compositae), subfamily: Carduoidae
Status in Poland: archeophyte, common
The cornflower is a tall, supple annual plant.
The stem has a few alternately arranged leaves, is branched, cobweb-like-hairy and slightly ribbed.
Two types of gray-green, linear leaves: the lower ones are pinnate, with petioles, while the upper leaves are sessile and entire-margined. The entire flower head is usually 20-30 mm in diameter. It grows at the top of the stem from an elongated, scaly cover.
Only disc flowers with 5 stamens and a lower pistil, the marginal flowers are larger than the central ones. Corolla with 5 tubular petals, usually in a characteristic cornflower blue shade.
The fruit of the cornflower is a fluffy blue-gray achene with a whitish apex.
It produces little seed for a segetal weed, only 700-1600. However, they are extremely vital.
Contrary to appearances, cornflower was not only fought as a cereal weed, but also deliberately cultivated as a dye, medicinal, honey and ornamental plant.
Requires light places. It cannot withstand soils rich in calcium or gypsum, with an alkaline reaction.
A number of varieties were bred for flower beds or cut flowers, with full flowers and heads of a different color than those of wild forms, such as black ‘Black Ball’, white ‘Weisser Ball’, carmine ‘Red Boy’ or pink ‘Rosa Ball’. There is no shortage of dwarf cultivars, e.g. ‘Polka Dot’ and ‘Jubilee Gem’. They play a big role in Canadian floriculture.
Blue dye for food and paper is still made of cornflower today. In the past, wool was also dyed with it.
Many Polish towns and villages owe their name to the folk names of the cornflower. From the Wawer (Twig) district in the capital to Wasilków (Basilie) in Podlasie. Scientists have transferred many of the folk names of this species to other types of plants, similar to cornflower, in terms of their appearance or habitat preferences. For example, “blue button” has become the name of a common species Jasione montana from a completely different family, bellflowers, but it’s also blue or purple, also typical for dry sands without limestone, with head-shaped inflorescences that are deceptively similar to those of Asteraceae. In today’s keys and atlases, “headflower” is one of the plume thistles species Cirsium.
As an ancient weed and medicinal herb, cornflower has a rich symbolism, sometimes very different in neighboring countries. In France, it is still associated with the First World War and its veterans. In German-speaking countries, “Basilie” symbolized the Prussian military and civil virtues, due to the resemblance to the blue Prussian uniforms. According to German legends, the Prussian Queen Louise hid with her children in a cornfield full of cornflowers from Bonaparte’s wetboys. In order for the little ones not to cry, she were making them wreaths from “stepmothers”. In Austria, a bunch of cornflowers was the hallmark of NSDAP members after the party was banned. While in Finland and Estonia cornflowers are associated with national conservatism, in Sweden with liberals. In the UK, however, they connect the graduates of Harrow, Winchester and Dulwich schools across the political spectrum.
The cornflower is very useful for bees, it has a high honey yield (350 kg/ha) and pollen yield (60 kg/ha).
The cornflower is also used by wild pollinators: solitary bees and bumblebees.