AskDefine | Define cornflower

Dictionary Definition



1 plant of southern and southeastern United States grown for its yellow flowers that can be dried [syn: strawflower, Uvularia grandiflora]
2 an annual Eurasian plant cultivated in North America having showy heads of blue or purple or pink or white flowers [syn: bachelor's button, bluebottle, Centaurea cyanus]

User Contributed Dictionary



(US) IPA: /ˈkɔrnˌflawər/


  1. A small annual species of aster, usually with bushy blue flowers which grows natively in European cornfields (i.e. wheatfields).
  2. a blue colour, as that of the cornflower.
    cornflower colour:   



Scientific names




  1. of a blue colour, as that of the cornflower.


Derived terms

See also

Extensive Definition

This article describes the flowering plant. For the foodstuffs, see cornflour.
Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower, Bachelor's button, Basket flower, Bluebottle, Boutonniere flower, Hurtsickle) is a small annual flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe.
It is an annual plant growing to 40-90 cm tall, with grey-green branched stems. The leaves are lanceolate, 1-4 cm long. The flowers are most commonly an intense blue colour, produced in flowerheads (capitula) 1.5-3 cm diameter, 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 endangered in its native habitat by agricultural intensification, particularly over-use of herbicides, destroying its habitat; in the United Kingdom it has declined from 264 sites to just 3 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 naturalised 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 colours, including pink and purple. It is also occasionally used as a culinary ornament. 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. A relative, Centaurea montana is a perennial plant which is also cultivated as a garden plant.

Folklore and symbolism

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.
In herbalism a decoction of cornflower is effective in treating conjunctivitis, 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. It is also the symbol of the Estonian political party, Rahvaliit, the Finnish political party, National Coalition Party, and the Swedish political party, Liberal People's Party. The Cornflower is also often seen as an inspiration for the romantic symbol of the Blue Flower.
The Blue Cornflower was the favourite flower of Kaiser Wilhelm I. Because of its ties to royalty, authors such as Theodor Fontane have used it, often sarcastically, to comment the social and political climate of the time.
In Austria it is a political symbol for pan-German and rightist ideas. The Members of the Freedom Party wore it at 2005's Parliament Opening.
The Crayola company manufactures a color of crayon called Cornflower.
cornflower in Bulgarian: Синя метличина
cornflower in Czech: Chrpa polní
cornflower in Danish: Kornblomst
cornflower in German: Kornblume
cornflower in Estonian: Rukkilill
cornflower in Spanish: Centaurea cyanus
cornflower in Esperanto: Cejano
cornflower in Persian: گل گندم
cornflower in French: Bleuet des champs
cornflower in Upper Sorbian: Kostrjanc
cornflower in Icelandic: Garðakornblóm
cornflower in Hebrew: דרדר כחול
cornflower in Lithuanian: Rugiagėlė
cornflower in Dutch: Korenbloem
cornflower in Dutch Low Saxon: Blauwbloem
cornflower in Japanese: ヤグルマギク
cornflower in Polish: Chaber bławatek
cornflower in Russian: Василёк синий
cornflower in Albanian: Kokoçeli ngjyrë qielli
cornflower in Simple English: Cornflower
cornflower in Slovak: Nevädza poľná
cornflower in Finnish: Ruiskaunokki
cornflower in Swedish: Blåklint
cornflower in Tajik: Чашми гӯсола
cornflower in Turkish: Peygamber çiçeği (bitki)
cornflower in Ukrainian: Волошка синя
cornflower in Samogitian: Vosilka
cornflower in Chinese: 矢車菊
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