Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Centaurea cyanus L.

Fully hardy annual with dark blue to pale blue, sometimes pink or white, flower heads in spring and summer. Highly variable in height, to 80cm.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

An ancient garden plant of medicinal use.  The juice of the petals makes a blue ink and can also be used as a non-permanent dye for linen.  ‘Small Blue Bottle.  Cyanus minor.  It grows near two feet high, the leaves are a willow green, and the flowers a fine blue.  It grows amongst the corn, and flowers in June and July.  The leaves and flowers are said to have the same virtues as those of the great Blue-Bottle, see Plate 66.  [This appears to be a garden form.  ‘It grows in gardens and flowers in June.  This is reckoned among the vulnerary plants, the juice being commended against bruises and contusions which come of falls, though a vein be broken and the party spit blood; as also to heal any cut or green wound.’] Some commend the distilled water of the flowers for sore, inflamed and bloodshot eyes.  The infusion and powder of the flowers are given as a remedy against the jaundice.’  Blackwell pl.270/1739.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [H.53/1843].  Possibly introduced as a source of dye although it has long been a popular garden plant.


Published Sep 14, 2009 - 05:08 PM | Last updated Jul 14, 2010 - 04:14 PM

Figured are flowering shoots with pale blue flowers and small purple bracts.  Blackwell pl.270, 1837.

Centaurea cyanus L. | Blackwell pl.270/1837 | BHL

Family Asteraceae
Region of origin

Northern Temperate Regions, including Britain

  • Leucacantha cyanus Nieuwl. & Lunell 
Common Name

Blue-bottle, Cornflower, Batchelor?s buttons

Name in the Camden Park Record

Centaurea cyanea 

Confidence level high