This spring and summer, we had a wide and colorful variety of bachelor’s button (or cornflowers) in the Frog & PenguINN wildflower meadow. Most returned as “volunteers” as these annual flowering plants have a tendency to self-seed. Cornflowers are in the family Asteraceae and grew as weeds in crop fields in their native Europe.
While the classic bachelor’s button is true blue, the flower comes in a variety of colors, from pastel pink and lavender to deep purple and white with other colors. Blooms can range from 1 to 3 feet tall.
The bachelor button connotation refers from an early use when bachelors would wear the flowers in suit coat buttonholes when courting. In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love. If the flower faded too quickly, it was seen as a sign that the man’s love was not returned.
The blue cornflower was one of the national symbols of Germany. This is in part based on a story that Queen Louise of Prussia was fleeing Berlin, pursued by Napoleon's forces and hid her children in a cornflower field, weaving cornflower wreaths to keep them quiet.
Flowers are edible and have a sweet, cucumber-like taste. They can be used to make tea and have been used in traditional herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory and for treating conjunctivitis. Cornflowers attract bees and butterflies because of their high nectar content.