May 27, 2020

Warming the Cockles

Agrostemma githago - common corncockle

Janine Pineo Photo | Agrostemma githago – common corncockle

Agrostemma githago is one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed, which might explain its existence around the world. The common corncockle is traced back to European wheat fields, and it is thought that the flower was transported around the globe in the wheat seed, which was then planted in other locales, making it an “alien” species. Perhaps of some worry is the fact that all parts of the plant are poisonous, which means having it growing in a wheat field could be problematic. Despite its widespread abundance in the 19th century, it is considered an at-risk plant because of mechanized farming in Europe. The plant has naturalized in parts of the United States, including Maine. It is listed as a noxious weed or a pest in some areas of the U.S., but not in Maine. One way to control it from reseeding is to cut the flowers; the blooms are known for their long vase-life.