January 21, 2020

An Alien Species

Agrostemma githago - Common Corncockle

Agrostemma githago - Common Corncockle - Photo Courtesy of Emma Chapin/The Heirloom Garden of Maine

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. In the 19th century, it was a common sight in European fields, but ironically today it is considered at risk due to intensive mechanised farming and the new methods employed to grow wheat in the very place it originated: Europe. And in some areas of the United States, it is considered a “noxious weed” or a “pest.” It is not listed as such for the state of Maine, although the USDA Plants Database says it is found in a number of Maine counties. The striking magenta blooms, which are less than a couple of inches wide, are one good reason to grow corncockle in your Maine garden. It also makes a stunning cut flower, which would definitely keep any invasive tendencies in check.

Today’s Daily Plant is a collaboration of Garden Maine and The Heirloom Garden of Maine, which grows corncockle.