Centaurea dealbata


If you would have asked me a couple years ago what this flower was called, I would not have hesitated to tell you it is a Cornflower.  That may be true, however, the name Cornflower is used to describe many different plants.  If you want to get more specific, this particular plant is called Centaurea dealbata.  It belongs to the second largest family of flowering plants, Asteraceae, which includes some 23,000 species.  This huge family is further broken down into genera (which is the plural form of genus).   The genus Centaurea includes some 500-600 species of herbaceous thistle-like flowering plants, including bachelor buttons, knapweeds, and this particular plant, which grows in my yard.

Trying to find a common name, I learned this is a plant of many names:  Persian Cornflower, Knapweed, Persian Bachelor Button, Persian Centaurea, Whitewash Cornflower, to name a few.  The Persian comes from the fact that this flower originated in Persia, which is now called Iran. It was introduced to Britain in 1804, so it’s been around for quite a while.  In the United States, it is a perennial, but only as far as zone 6. 

centaurea2My Persian Cornflower was purchased from a catalog 3 years ago.  When I planted it, it was sickly looking.  The first summer, there were no flowers.  Last year, a couple flowers.  This year, finally, lots of growth, lots of flowers.  It grows about 2 feet tall, and has fairly attractive green leaves, which are white underneath.  It’s not very sturdy though, so I had use a ring to keep it from falling right over.  The buds are interesting both before and after they bloom, and the flowers are beautiful.  I’m told that seeds can be collected after the seedheads dry on the plant, so I saved them.  My original purpose in planting this Cornflower was to break up a seemingly endless bed of daylilies.  That worked well, and I hope that I can coax some to grow from seeds.  This plant has turned out to be a nice addition to my garden, and I hope it will be around for many years.



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One Response to “Centaurea dealbata”

  1. Kem Says:

    I’d have guessed a bachelor button…interesting. Years ago, I heard that newly planted perennials “sleep the first year, creep the second, and leap the first.” Sounds like this plant followed that! Before I forget, I’ve been going to ask you if you’ve messed with planting things like marigolds to keep bugs away. I have, but it doesn’t seem to work that well–and I’ve learned that slugs will eat marigolds! Slugs are a pain in the neck out here, but a bowl of beer takes care of them fairly quickly. 🙂

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