Botanist's Glossary

Cornflower - Centaurea cyanus

  • Description
    • Cornflower (Asteraceae family) is an elegant annual plant with prettily ruffled deep-blue flowers that come together in terminal flower heads. It is a species that grows alongside arable crops and used to be found in cornfields, along with daisies and poppies. The weed killers used in intensive farming much reduced its numbers. Nowadays, however, the cornflower has found a refuge with organic farmers and its numbers are growing once again, thanks to farming practices that are more respectful of biodiversity.
  • Traditions
    • The origin of the Latin name Centaurea evokes the centaur Chiron, a mythical healer, who was said to have treated a wound with the sap of a species from this very diverse genus. In the French language, cornflower is also called "casse-lunettes" (eyeglasses-breaker) - an allusion to its effectiveness as an ophthalmic anti-inflammatory. For centuries, cornflower water has been used by women as a beauty product, as it soothes the eyes and softens the skin of the face.
  • Properties
    • The floral water is extracted by steam distillation of the flowers. Decongestant and softening, it relieves tired eyes. Soothing and slightly antibacterial, it cleanses and tones all skin types and gives a pleasant fresh sensation.