Monday, 16 May 2011

Cornflower, the Estonian National Flower

On April 7, 2000, the Estonia Post has issued one stamp features the Estonian National Flower, Cornflower. The stamp depicts the blue cornflower and a bee close to it. The more picture of conflower depicted on the First Day Cover which  issued together with the stamps.
Cornflower  or Centaurea cyanus  is a small annual flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe.Cornflower is an annual plant growing to 16-35 inches tall, with grey-green branched stems. The leaves are lanceolate, 1–4 cm long.
The flowers are most commonly an intense blue colour, produced in flowerheads (capitula) 1.5–3 cm diameter, with a ring of a few large, spreading ray florets surrounding a central cluster of disc florets. The blue pigment is protocyanin.
In the past Cornflowerit often grew as a weed in crop fields. Rye is one of Estonia's most important crops. Mainly rye flour is used to bake Estonia's tasty and healthy "black bread". Cornflowers have been used and prized historically for their blue pigment. Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in some tea blends and herbal teas.The cornflower is considered a beneficial weed, and its edible flower can be used to add colour to salads.
The beautiful blue cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), in Estonian literally the rye flower, has been chosen for a national symbol since 1968 and symbolizes daily bread to Estonians. It is also the symbol of the Estonian political party,
Cornflower is now endangered in its native habitat by agricultural intensification, particularly over-use of herbicides, destroying its habitat.The conservation charity Plantlife named it as one of 101 species it would actively work to bring 'Back from the Brink'. It is also, however, through introduction as an ornamental plant in gardens and a seed contaminant in crop seeds, now naturalised in many other parts of the world, including North America and parts of Australia.

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