(Centaurea cyanus L.)
Cornflower, a flower known in Poland, is a species of the Asteraceae family. It grows very widely throughout Europe and Western Siberia, and to this day, it has travelled to almost all temperate zone regions of the world. Cornflower is considered a common weed as it grows in all soils due to its small habitat requirements. It can be found in particular in oilseed rape fields, winter cereal fields, and fields where root crops and legumes are grown.
Cornflower is classed as a neophyte – a plant that appears wherever humans live and cereals are grown, in areas where it did not grow previously.
Cornflower is an annual plant with an amazing honey-producing capacity, as its nectar is even 34 percent sugars! Its flowerheads are characterised by beautiful, blue petals, due to the presence of anthocyanins. In fact, these compounds are more red in colour, but because of the complex of iron, calcium and magnesium, the human eye perceives this colour as dark blue.
What valuable benefits are hidden in the delicate cornflower petals?
Cornflowers, or more precisely, cornflower heads in bloom, are collected in the field. Then, the margin flowers are pulled out and dried as briefly as possible in a shady and airy location. Cornflower contains valuable active ingredients, such as anthocyanins, bitter compounds, flavonoids, and tannins. Owing to the content of anthocyanins, it demonstrates antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities and seals small blood vessels.
Flavonoids found in cornflower show a diuretic effect as well.
Infusion of cornflower is used as a mild agent alleviating inflammation of the urinary tract. Cornflower can also be applied externally, and as such it is recommended for conjunctivitis and blepharitis. When consumed, infusion of edible cornflower petals or the petals themselves increase appetite. This action is due to increased secretion of saliva, gastric juice and bile – all thanks to bitter compounds that cornflower contains. The colourful cornflower petals are used as an ingredient of many tea blends to improve the appearance, taste and flavour of tea.
Cornflower is a highly valued plant in cosmetology.
The cosmetics industry has appreciated cornflower for its softening and antibacterial properties, so it is commonly used as an ingredient of mouthwashes and antibacterial lotions and gels. It also exhibits an anti-inflammatory effect and strengthens blood vessels, and as such, it is recommended for skin with capillary problems, or ‘spider veins’.
The highly valuable extracts of cornflower are recommended for oily, acne-prone skin.
Cornflower extract protects, moisturises and tightens the skin. Due to its antioxidant properties, cornflower supports the removal of harmful products of metabolism, helping the skin retain its natural firmness for longer.
Infusion of cornflower can also be applied as a compress, to help treat conjunctivitis, and it can soothe strained eyes following many hours spent working at a computer or in front of TV or cell phone screens.