Corncockle - Agrostemma githago

Scientific Name: Agrostemma githago (Caryophyllaceae - Campion family).

English Name: Corncockle; Githage; Zizany; Corn Pink; Corn Rose.

French Name: La Nielle des blés (= 'wheat blackening'); l'Oeillet des champs (= 'field pink'); la Couronne des blés (= 'wheat crown'); la Nielle des champs (= 'field blackening'); la Nielle (an old word for black, presumably referring to the seeds, which could contaminate the wheat harvest).

5 Key Characters:
  • Tall and softly hairy.
  • Narrow lanceolate leaves.
  • Pinky-purple petals with narrow, pointed, green, hairy sepals, much longer than the broad notched petals.
  • Calyx (tube the flower sits in) green, hairy and ribbed.
  • Flowers 2 - 5 cm across.


Habitat: On arable land, especially cereal crops on sandy soil.

Flowering Period: April-May-June-July-August.

Status: Once a serious weed of cereal crops but now very rare. In sufficient quantities the seeds are poisonous and can contaminate a grain harvest, so the plant has been ruthlessly and systematically eradicated by cereal farmers. It still occurs naturally in a few places in the Touraine, and organic farmers find that it can reappear once pesticide use ceases, presumably from seeds laying dormant in the soil for many years.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

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