Blue Cornflowers

Purple and blue cornflowers found growing along side of Dogwalk Road in the Monroe community made a beautiful bouquet.

 

On a drive in the country recently, I happened to notice one of my favorite wildflowers growing by the hundreds in a wheat field. This species is known as blue cornflowers. Its presence canít be missed because of the intense blue color of the blooms. Itís probably considered a weed by many, but I am not included in that number. For those not familiar with cornflowers, here is some information: Cornflowers are annual plants with grey-green branched stems and were brought to America from Europe in the seventeenth century. These flowers were among those cultivated by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Often called the "cultivated weed" or "weed of the cornfield", cornflower got its name because it was the flowering weed that grew among the corn plants. The flowers are most commonly an intense blue color, with a ring of a few large, spreading ray florets surrounding a central cluster of disc florets. The blue pigment is protocyanin, which in roses is red. In the past, it often grew as a weed in crop fields. It is now said to be endangered in its native habitat particularly through over-use of herbicides which destroy its habitat. In the United Kingdom it has declined from 264 sites to just three sites in the last 50 years. It is also however, through introduction as an ornamental plant in gardens and a seed contaminant in crop seeds, now naturalized in many other parts of the world, including North America and parts of Australia. It is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, where several cultivars have been selected with varying pastel colors, including pink and purple. Cornflowers have been used and prized historically for their blue pigment. Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in tea and is famous in the Lady Grey blend of Twinings. In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love; if the flower faded too quickly, it was taken as a sign that the man's love was
unrequited.

An herbal treatment says that boiling a cornflower plant is effective in treating conjunctivitis (or pink eye), and as a wash for tired eyes. The Blue Cornflower has been the national flower of Estonia since 1968 and symbolizes daily bread to Estonians. The Crayola company manufactures a color of crayon called Cornflower.

There are also some magical uses for Cornflowers that include using them for protection of property, to repel evil influences, and discourage evil visitors. This is how you do it: Grind blue cornflowers to a fine powder, then sweep your house with a broom. When your home is thoroughly swept and spotless, sprinkle the powder over the threshold of all doors which allow entry to the property. Also sprinkle it in the corner of every room, including the corners of all your cupboards.

If you are worried about evil influences entering your home through the telephone or computer, sprinkle the same powder under and around your telephone and computer to keep them away.

To be able to perceive events in the future or beyond normal sensory contact, instructions say to gather fresh blue cornflowers and moisten them. Then lie down on a comfortable surface and relax. Now apply the cornflowers to the area above and between the eyes. The more often this is done, the more effective it will become.

Cornflowers were among the jewelry and gold discovered in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. A small wreath of cornflowers and olive leaves, still the deepest blue after thousands of years, was among the cache of riches left to aid the pharaoh in the afterlife.

Prized for their intense blue color, cornflowers have been featured in gardens for more than a hundred years. Most varieties are blue, but others come in pink, maroon, and white blooms, set apart by pale, gray-green leaves. Another name for Corn Flowers is Bachelor's buttons that grow one to three feet and bloom in early summer. Leave some seed heads after these annuals flower and goldfinches will visit your garden to eat the seeds. Bachelor's buttons last for up to two weeks as a cut flower and they are also nice dried.

I was happy to have the opportunity to pick a bouquet of cornflowers the other day and was very surprised to find purple ones growing along side the blue ones. I placed that little bouquet in a plastic water bottle I happened to have in the car, and continued to enjoy its beauty for many days. A quote from Robert Louis Stevenson points out how the simple things in life are what really counts. Hereís what he recommends: "The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life."