Once considered as a weed of arable fields, the development of intensive agricultural practices all but wiped out Cornflowers in the wild. This delicate, blue flower is now most likely to occur as a garden escapee, as part of intentional wildflower seeding, or as the result of the disturbance of soil containing old seed banks. Its strongholds remain roadside verges, scrub and wasteland. It flowers from June to August, often alongside other 'arable weeds' (also called 'cornfield flowers') such as Corn Chamomile and Corncockle.
How to identify
The bright blue flowers are actually composite heads of small flowers, like all of the daisy family. In the Cornflower, the outer florets are star-like, with denser smaller, more purplish flowers in the middle. Stems and leaves are long and pointy with hairy, blackish buds at the tips.
Where to find it
Widespread, but scarce and declining.
When to find it
How can people help
Before the Second World War, arable weeds, such as Cornflower, would have peppered the landscape with colour in the summer months. But the post-war intensification of agriculture and widespread use of herbicides have driven these species to the brink of extinction in the wild. Nevertheless, The Wildlife Trusts manage many farmland and grassland habitats for the benefit of these plants, often using traditional methods. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.