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Edible uses


The young shoots are edible[1].

Flowers - raw or cooked. The fresh florets can be used in salads[2]. They are used as a vegetable or a garnish[3].

An edible blue dye is obtained from the flowers, used for colouring sugar and confections[3].

Unknown part


Material uses

A blue ink and a dye is obtained from the petals mixed with alum-water[4][5][6][7]. The dye gives a lovely colour to linen, but it is transient[4].

The dried petals are used in pot-pourri in order to add colour[4][8].

Extracts of the plant are added to hair shampoos and rinses[2].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Cornflower has a long history of herbal use, though it is seldom employed nowadays. In France it is still used as a remedy for tired eyes, but opinions differ as to its efficacy[9][8]. Traditionally it is said to work best on blue eyes, whilst Plantago major (great plantain) was used for brown eyes[8].

The dried flowers are antipruritic, antitussive, astringent, weakly diuretic, emmenagogue, ophthalmic, very mildly purgative, and tonic[4][1][10][11][7][12]. An infusion can be used in the treatment of dropsy, constipation, or as a mouthwash for ulcers and bleeding gums[10][2]. This infusion is also taken as a bitter tonic and stimulant, improving the digestion and possibly supporting the liver as well as improving resistance to infections[9]. A water distilled from the petals was formerly in repute as a remedy for weak eyes[4] and a soothing lotion for conjunctivitis[1][12]. The seeds are used as a mild laxative for children[1][9].

A decoction of the leaves is antirheumatic[1][9].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow March in the greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in May. The seed can also be sown in situ during April, whilst in areas where the winters are not too cold a sowing in situ during September will produce larger and earlier-flowering plants

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Centaurea cyanus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[13][14]. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil and a sunny position[14]. Tolerates dry, low fertility and alkaline soils[14]. Established plants are drought tolerant[7].

A very ornamental plant[13], there are many named varieties[15]. The flowers are often used in dried-flower arrangements because they retain their colour well[1]. A good plant for bees, butterflies and moths[16][17][18]. The cornflower is considered to be a good companion, in small quantities, for cereal crops[19][16], though another report says that its greedy roots deprive the cultivated plants of nutrients and its tough stem dulls the reaper's sickle[4].

Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[20].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Centaurea cyanus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Centaurea cyanus.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Centaurea cyanus
Imported References
Edible uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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  1. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  2. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  3. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  4. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  5. ? 5.05.1 Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide. Oxford University Press ISBN 0192176218 (1969-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.1 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
  7. ? Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting. Cassell Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-304-34324-2 (1993-00-00)
  8. ? Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism Orbis Publishing. London. ISBN 0-85613-067-2 (1979-00-00)
  9. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  10. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  12. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
  13. ? 13.013.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  14. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  15. ? Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
  17. ? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (1982-00-00)
  18. ? International Bee Research Association. Garden Plants Valuable to Bees. International Bee Research Association. (1981-00-00)
  19. ? Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants. Watkins (1979-00-00)
  20. ? Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants J. M. Dent & Sons, London. ISBN 0 460 86048 8 (1990-00-00)
  21. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17

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