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ntroduced Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Cornflower, Bachelor's button • Nepali: मकै फूल Makai Phool
Botanical name: Centaurea cyanus    Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)

The attractive flowers of the cornflower are a bright celebratory blue, distinctive enough to have given its name to a colour. The narrow grey-green leaves, no more than five millimetres wide, grow alternatively up the stem. The closed, emerging flower heads resemble other members of the knapweed family to which the cornflower is closely related. In the early years of the twentieth century, cornflowers were common in Britain and, together with red poppies and white-flowering Mayweed, must have made a patriotic sight across parts of the countryside. The nickname "cornflower" comes from the fact that the plant grows wild in the grain fields of southern Europe. When Napoleon forced Queen Louise of Prussia from Berlin, she hid her children in a cornfield and kept them entertained and quiet by weaving wreaths of cornflowers. One of her children, Wilheim, later became the emperor of Germany. Remembering his mother's bravery, he made the cornflower a national emblem of unity.

Identification credit: Anu Venugopalan Photographed in New Delhi

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