Centaurea cyanus

Cornflower, with its star-like blossoms of brilliant blue, is one of our most striking wild flowers. It is an unwelcome weed by the farmer, because it withdraws nourishment from the ground needed for corn. Its tough stems in former days of hand-reaping were said to, “blunt the reaper’s sickle, earning it the name of ‘Hurt Sickle'”.

The Latin name, Cyanus, was given to the Cornflower after a youthful devotee of the goddess Flora (Cyanus), whose favorite flower it was. The name of the genus is derived from the Centaur, Chiron, who taught mankind the healing virtue of herbs.

Other Names: Centaurea, Bachelor’s Buttons, Bluebonnet, Bluebottle, Blue Centaury, Cyani, Bluebow, Hurtsickle, Blue Cap, Cyani-flowers

Cornflower as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

CornflowerThe medicinal parts are the fast-growing ray flowers and the dried ray florets, which have been separated from the receptacle and epicalyx, and to a lesser extent the tubular florets, which have usually been separated from the ovaries.

The flowers used in modern herbal medicine are considered to have tonic, stimulant and emmenagogue properties, with action similar to that of Blessed Thistle.

Juices from the stem of this plant are used externally to treat wounds and cuts. It is a nervine, and is good for mouth sores, infectious disease, weak eyes, bruises, and insect bites and stings.

Folklore Uses

Cornflowers and their preparations have been used internally for fever, constipation, leucorrhea, menstrual disorders and vaginal Candida. It has also been used as a laxative, tonic and bitter. The flowers were used as a diuretic and an expectorant, or as a stimulant for liver and gall bladder function.

Cornflower is rarely used today.

Other Uses for Cornflower

The expressed juice of the petal makes a good blue ink; if expressed and mixed with alum-water, it may be used in water-color drawing. It dyes linen a beautiful blue, but the color is not permanent.

The dried petals are used by perfumers for giving color to potpourri.

Culinary Uses for Cornflower

Cornflower has a sweet to spicy, clove-like flavor.

Occasionally, it is used as an inactive ingredient in tea mixtures. The infusion is prepared by adding 1 gm of cornflower per cup.

Only the petals of these composite flowers are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic and may cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Sufferers of asthma, ragweed, and hayfever should not consume composite flowers, and may have extreme allergies to ingesting any flowers at all.


Health risks or side effects following the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages are not recorded. The herb possesses a weak sensitization potential.

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