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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Blue Centaury, Bluebonnet, Bluebottle, Bluecap, Bluebow, Bluet (Fr), Cornflower, Cyani, Cyani Flos, Cyani Flower, Hurtsickle, Knapweed, Kornblume
(Centaurea cyanus)
See also: Blessed Thistle

NOTE: Related herbs are Scabiosa (C. scabiosa), Black Knapweed (C. nigra) and perennial Cornflower (C. montana) and have similar properties.

A native of Europe, but cultivated worldwide. This is a common plant of cultivated fields and roadsides which is considered a serious pest by farmers.
Stems are 1 to 3 feet high, tough and wiry, slender, furrowed and branched, somewhat angular and covered with a loose cottony down. Leaves are very narrow and long and arranged alternately on the stem and more or less covered with a white cobwebby down that gives the plant a somewhat dull and gray appearance. The lower leaves are broader and often have a roughly toothed outline. Flowers grow solitary on long stalks. The bracts enclosing the hard head of the flower are numerous, with tightly overlapping scales, each bordered by a fringe of brown teeth. The inner disk florets are small and numerous, of a pale purplish-rose color. The bright blue ray florets are large, widely spread and much cut into.
The genus name is derived from the Centaur, Chiron, who taught mankind the healing virtues of herbs and from the Latin "cyanus", which was the name of a devotee of the goddess Flora who named it in his behalf. The name "hurtsickle" comes from the time when farmers used a reaper's sickle to harvest crops. The plant are tough and would quickly dull the blades. Although a common grainfield pest in the past, modern farming methods have nearly eradicated them as a problem in the field. Today it is grown as an ornamental.
Esoterically, it is considered a "vision" herb. The extract is purifed by filtering through three layers of blue linen, then ritually presented beneath a full moon in the presence of a moonstone. The resulting liquid is used to bathe eyes in order to open them to clairvoyance. Planetary rulers are Venus and Saturn.

PROPAGATION: By seed in autumn or spring. Annual; outer flowers with rose or white coloring are available.
NEEDS: Grows well in any garden soil; flowers may be affected by petal blight; leaves may be damaged by rust. One cultivated variety is C.c. "Florence series".
HARVEST: Flowers are cut as they open and are dried whole or as florets, according to use. Flowers appear from June to August.
PART USED: Flowers.


Astringent, reduces inflammation, stimulant, tonic, emmenagogue, diuretic, bitter, expectorant, liver and gallbladder stimulant; used for cordials. Action is similar to Blessed Thistle.
Has been used externally for corneal ulcers, conjunctivitis, minor wounds, and mouth ulcers.
Has been used for fevers, menstrual disorders, vaginal yeast infections.
Water distilled from the petals was once used as a remedy for weak eyes (Eau de Casselunettes was a French product sold for this purpose). The flowers were sometimes made into an eyewash or eyedrops and used as compresses on the eyes.
Was commonly used for dyspepsia.
According to Culpepper, the powder or dried leaves was given with success to those that were bruised by a fall or suffered from broken veins. He also states that combined with Plantain, Horsetail, or Comfrey, it was a remedy against poisonous bites and stings; that the seeds or leaves or distilled water of the herb taken in wine was very good against plagues, infectious diseases and pestilent fevers; that the juice of the plant placed in a fresh or gangrenous wound would speed healing; that it was helpful to heal all ulcers and sores in the mouth.
Was used by Native Americansas a remedy against bites of venomous animals and valued as an eye restorative (curing weak eyes), dimness of sight and chronic inflammation (NOTE: the whole herb was used)

!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
30 grains

Powerful nervine, tonic and digestive aid for livestock. Mildly laxative.
Used externally for wounds.
Used for treatment of all nerve ailments, including paralysis and chorea (nervous disorder characterized by involuntary muscle movement).
Used for poor appetite, nervous indigestion, jaundice, insect bites (including scorpion).
Used for eye ailments and wounds.
DOSE for ANIMALS = Several handfuls of whole herb daily.
EXTERNALLY = a brew of one handful of herb to a half pint of water.
OF the SEEDS = 2 Tbsp given as a laxative.

Florets may be used fresh in salads.

Florets may be dried for potpourries; the dried petals are used by perfumers for giving color to potpourri.
The expressed juice of the petals makes a good blue ink; if mixed with alum-water it can be used in water-color art; the flowers were once cultivated for the making of ink and blue dyes.

It will dye linen a lovely blue, but the color is not permanent.

Extracts of cornflower are added to hair shampoos and rinses.
Used as a coloring agent in herb tea.

©2000 & 2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH