Spare a thought for the misunderstood cornflower. Maligned as a weed for much of its history just because it dared to pop up in fields otherwise dedicated to corn (ooooh precious corn - what has corn ever done for us? Besides provide unparalleled sustenance for centuries obviously..). Anyway the result of that infringement was TOTAL ANNIHILATION at the hands of European and North American farmers. Well not quite, but the poor things are now considered to be endangered thanks to the over-zealous use of agricultural pesticides upon their natural habitats.
Which all things considered makes their blooms, a spindly spread of pretty blue ray florets around a cluster of disc florets, all the more precious. Their weed status is all the more unfair when you consider that their flowers too are edible, famously used in the ‘Lady Grey’ blend of Twinings tea when their bright blue pigment isn’t bringing colour to an artfully prepared salad in some bourgeois kitchen somewhere.
Finally, as if you needed further proof of the cornflower’s virtues beyond your favourite cup of tea and fancy lunch, its symbolism too stretches far and wide: cornflowers act as the French equivalent to the UK’s armistice remembrance poppies; in folklore they were worn by young men in love, with the understanding that if its vibrancy faded too quickly that of course meant their love was unrequited.
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