Cornflowers have been used for centuries to create a deep blue dye and you can even make a homemade food dye out of them as they are edible. The taste of the common cornflower is a very delicate; a sweet spicy mix that goes well in salads for both taste and visual appeal. The Centaurea cynus is also used as an addition to some tea blends such as fine Earl grey teas and the petals can be picked and used as an herbal remedy to treat eye ailments.
Cornflowers have many historical references, one of which tells of the story of Queen Louise of Prussia and her children fleeing from Napoleon’s forces. It is said that she hid her children in a field of cornflowers and kept them quiet by making flower wreaths form the cornflower. The colour was closely associated with Prussia, whose military uniform was dyed in a colour now called Prussian blue.
Cornflowers also appear in many other points in history - for example they were used together with other plant leaves and berries to make an incredibly ornate natural burial wreath for Pharaoh Tutankhamun. These are beautiful to look at and incredibly well preserved.
In later folklore this flower was worn by young men who were in love and it was said that if the flower faded then the man’s love was not returned. In Victorian England they got the name ‘Bachelor’s Buttons’ as young women wore them to signify that they were single. They were also reportedly the favourite flower of John F Kennedy.