Estonia is a country in Northern Europe that borders the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, it includes more than 1,500 islands, and its diverse terrain spans rocky beaches, lush forests, and sparkling lakes. Whether or not you’re familiar with this alluring country, I’m sure you’ve heard of the national flower of Estonia: the Cornflower. A brilliant blue flower with soft double blossoms, the Cornflower is certainly a stunner!. Have you ever wondered where it came from? Well, now’s your chance! Read on to learn more about this beautiful bloom.
The History of the National Flower of Estonia
Once grown wild, the Cornflower gained its name because of its rampant spread in cornfields. Much like corn, the seeds thrive in open, sunny fields with moderately dry soil.
As mentioned above, it is the National flower of Estonia, representing the Estonian political party, but it’s no stranger to other parts of Europe. It is also a symbol for social liberalism within the Swedish National Party. In France, the cornflower is a common symbol for veterans of World War to wear, as a reminder of the 1918 Armistice. In addition to that, The Prussian army adopted cornflower blue for its uniforms.
The plant’s scientific name (centaurea cyanus) comes from the mythological Greek centaur, Chiron, who shared his knowledge of herbs with humans. The myths suggest that cornflowers were part of the medicine that healed a Achilles’ wounded ankle.
In ancient Egypt, reproductions depicted cornflowers dating back to the Stone and Bronze Age. Wreaths and garlands made of cornflowers were found in the tomb of King Tutankh-Amun. Because the cornflower blooms in March and April, experts can determine the time of year King Tutankh-Amun was buried.
The art of the Middle Ages displays many paintings and decorative uses of cornflowers. An example can be found on the ceiling of St. Michael’s church in Northern Bavaria.
What Occasions are Best for Sending Cornflower Bouquets?
Blue may be the only true natural color of the Cornflower, however, over the years it has been bred to grow in a wider range of blossom colors, including white, pink, red-purple, burgundy. This makes it a suitable choice for many occasions.
Sometimes known as a “Bachelor’s Button”, cornflowers were once worn by men in love to show that they were single and had a romantic interest in a woman. In the same vein, young women wore cornflowers to show that they were ready for marriage. This makes them an excellent addition to boutonnieres, bouquets, or centerpieces for weddings, anniversaries, or any other romantic event. Pin a Cornflower with stephanotis to your groom’s lapel or hand tie a batch with snow-white lilies of the valley for a vivid pop of color!
Did you know that Cornflowers are one of the only true blue flowers found in nature? As such, their dramatic beauty and vibrant color, evoke feelings of delicacy and elegance. Mix them with roses, mums, daisies, lilies, or sunflowers to mark a life-changing event, such as retirement or a milestone birthday.
How to Grow Your Own Cornflower
Easy to start from seed, this annual plant is particularly popular as a bedding plant for home gardeners.
– Plant in full sun, open fields.
– Moist, well-drained soil. Can tolerate drought conditions, once established.
– Allow 8-12 inches in between plants.
– Sow seeds in early spring for summer blooming plants. In more moderate climates, seeds will germinate even if sown in early fall. Established plants will bloom the following spring and summer.
Cooking with Cornflowers
Cornflowers are great for herb and vegetable gardens because their nectars attract insects, which boost the growth of squash, tomatoes, and other plants, but did you know they’re also edible? Cornflowers are full of extra nutrients such as folate, vitamin C, biotin, and calcium, and have a cucumber-like or a spicy, clove-like flavor. You can even make blue Cornflower sugar to sprinkle over desserts, cakes, or whatever you like!
– 1 handful of freshly harvested cornflowers (petals only)
– 2 tbsp white sugar
Mix the cornflower petals with the sugar and crush/mince in a mortar and pestle or herb grinder until the sugar turns blue.
Dry for 2 hours at 50°C in the oven or overnight in a dry place.
To preserve the color, store your Cornflower Sugar in the dark – for example in a non-transparent container or in a drawer. (Recipe courtesy of FarbFood)
Medicinal Uses for the Cornflower
The unstoppable cornflower also has medicinal uses as well! The active components of cornflower are flavonoids, coumarins, and sesquiterpene lactones. These phytochemicals grow mostly in the cornflower’s petals, seeds, and leaves. People drink cornflower tea to treat fever, constipation, water retention, and chest congestion. Women can take it for menstrual disorders and vaginal yeast infections.
To make cornflower tea, simply place a tsp of the dried herbs in a cup of boiling water. Let the mix stand for about 5 to 7 minutes then drink.
Drying your herbs:
– Harvest the flowers at the correct stage of blooming: this is when the center petals are still pointing into the middle.
– Don’t gather them in the morning – wait until the dew has dried.
– Tie about 20 stems of roughly the same length with an elastic band or string and hang them somewhere dry and dark for about to weeks
– Try different mixes with lavender or chamomile for different flavors and remedies
As you can see, whether it’s in a flower bed, a vase, in tea, or on cake, Cornflower is a beautiful, versatile flower for any occasion.
You’ve learned a ton about the National Flower of Estonia – The Cornflower. Now what?
– Send a gift to Estonia
– Learn more cool flower history in our blog about the National Flower Of Lithuania – The Rue
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Toni T. is a writer, mother, amateur makeup artist, and coffee addict — not necessarily in that order! A lover of all things vintage, she’s an encyclopedia of useless 80’s trivia and adores a bold red lip. She is a second-generation Greek American with dreams of traveling abroad to see the land on which her ancestors walked but, for now, she resides in the ‘burbs of New Jersey with her husband and children.