Corn Cockle

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Corn Cockle

Botanical Name: Agrostemna Githago
Lychnis Githago
Family: N.O. Caryophyllaceae

Synonyms: Corn Pink. Corn Campion. Ray. Nigella. Zizany. Darnel. Tare. Gith. Lychnis. Githage. Agrostemma. Pseudo-melanthium. Lolium.
Part Used: Seeds.

Description: A well-known Corn weed, with large entire purple petals.

'An annual herb of the Pink family; one of the Campions. The tall, slender stem, 2 to 4 feet high, has a dense coat of white hairs. The narrow, lance-shaped leaves, 4 to 5 inches in length, are produced in pairs and their stalkless bases meet around the stem. The large solitary flowers have very long stalks which issue from the axils of the leaves. They are 1 1/2 and 2 inches broad, with purple petals which have pale streaks ("honey guides"), showing the way to the mouth of the tube. There are no scales round the mouth. But the striking feature of the flower which distinguishes it from the Campions is the woolly calyx with its five strong ridges and five long green teeth that far exceed the length of the petals; in the open flower they take their place between the petals, and seem to serve as preliminary alighting perches for the butterflies and moths by which the flowers are pollinated. Nectar is secreted at the bottom of the tube, whose depth makes the flower unsuitable for bees. The flower is at first male, the anthers shedding their pollen before the stigmas are mature; they are so disposed at the mouth of the tube that the nectar-seekers push their faces among them and pick up pollen. On visiting a flower that is a day or two older and has become female, the stigmas occupying the mouth are in the way to receive it by a similar process. Sometimes, smaller flowers are produced in addition, which are entirely female, for the stamens are not developed. The flowers bloom from June to August, and are succeeded by a large, oval capsule, opening by five teeth, and containing about 2 dozen large black seeds. The seeds contain an irritant poison, and sometimes cause trouble through being eaten by domestic animals, and by getting into milling corn and thence into the family loaf.' - (Trees and Flowers of the Countryside.)

Corn Cockle is not used in alopathic medicine to-day, but according to Hill, if used long enough, it was considered a cure for dropsy and jaundice.

In homoeopathy a trituration of the seeds has been found useful in paralysis and gastritis.