Coral flower is an annual ground herb growing up to 50 centimeters tall. Stems are slender and wiry. Lower leaves are pinnately dissected, the upper leaves linear, covered with grayish, short hairs. Inflorescence heads are ovoid, 3 centimeters across. Flowers are blue to purple, pink to red, or cream to white. Fruit is an achene.
- A cosmopolitan weed.
- Cultivated in Baguio City.
- Ornamental cultivation for its intense blue flowers.
- Native to the Mediterranean.
- Phytochemical study yielded flavonoid aglycons (quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetic, apigenin, luteolin, hispidulin) and their glycosides, and caffeic, chlorogenic, neochlorogenic, and isochlorogenic acids from the epigeal parts. Ten amino acids were also identified.
- Study of flowers for phenolic compounds yielded phenilpropanic substances, flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannnins.
- Anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic.
- Dried flowers considered antipruritic, antitussive, astringent, weakly diuretic, emmenagogue, ophthalmic, mildly purgative, and tonic.
Flowers, leaves seeds.
- Blue cornflower has been used to flavor tea.
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- Externally, blue cornflower used as anti-inflammatory and astringent herb for ocular inflammation and as skin cleanser.
- Eye wash from blossoms use for conjunctivitis, also to relieve eye strain and puffy eyes.
- Infusion of blue blossoms used as curative and calming for nervous disorders.
- Infusion taken as bitter tonic and stimulant; also to improve digestion.
- Seeds used as mid laxative for children.
- Leaves used to create a cleansing facial steam for dry sensitive skin.
- Leaf decoction used as antirheumatic.
- Ornamental: Blue flowers retain colors well, a favorite in flower arrangements.
• Epoxylignans / Seeds: Study yielded epoxylignans, berchemol (1) and lariciresinol 4-O-b-d-glucopyranoside (2) in the seeds of C. cyanus. (4)
• Anti-Inflammatory: Preliminary studies have shown anti-inflammatory properties. Blue cornflower reduced the recurrence of urinary tract stones in one clinical trial.
• Phenolic Compounds / Flower Colors: Study investigated the phenolic compound content and pharmacologic effects of different colors of flowers. Phytochemical testing yielded phenilpropanic substances, flavonoids, anthocyanins and tannins. Results showed anthocyanins, the main metabolites that confer phamacologic effects to C. cyanus, to be more concentrated in the red flowers (4-5 times more than in blue inflorescences). Other phenolic compounds were higher in the red flowers.
• Gastroprotective: Qualitative studies on tinctures and crude aqueous, ethanol, and acetone extracts yielded gastroprotective compounds: quercetin, apigenin, and caffeic acid derivatives. Pharmacologic studies on rats with stress-induced ulcer showed high effectiveness of C. cyanus based vegetal products, even greater than the reference drug. (7)
• Weed with Medical Features: Report made a case for Centaurea cyanus as a weed that should not be totally destroyed, but maintained at a low level of negative influence over agricultural cultures, protected, and even cultivated for medical purposes. (8)
• Cornflower Honey / Antibacterial / Digital Dermatitis: Study defined markers for floral origin: lumichrome (18.8–43.5 mg/kg), 7-carboxylumichrome, (Z/E)-3-oxo-retro-α-ionol, and 3-oxo-α-ionol - to distinguish cornflower honey from other unifloral honeys. Cow's hoof disease (digital dermatitis) treated with cornflower honey showed significant faster healing than control group without treatment. (9)
• Anthocyanin in Blue Flowers: The anthocyanin was reported as cyanidin 3,5-diglucoside, namely cyanin. Study showed the major anthocyanin in blue cornflower is not cyanin but cyanidin 3-succinyl glucoside 5-glucoside, presently called centaurocyanin. It is not considered that this anthocyanin forms the blue complex pigment protocyanin. (10)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Immunological Effects / Flowerheads: Different pharmacological experiments (inhibition of carrageenan, zymosan, and croton oil-induced edemas, inhibition of plasma hemolytic activity, induction of anaphylatoxin activity) showed polysaccharides extracted from C. cyanus flower-heads had anti-inflammatory activity and interfered with complement. (11)
• Anti-Leukemic: Study evaluated the in vitro cytotoxic properties of ethanol extracts of six selected Asteraceae species, including Centaurea cyanus on J-45.01 human acute T leukemia cell line. All samples showed antileukemic properties and induced cell death via apoptosis. The activity correlated with total polyphenolic content. The highest IC50 value characterized the inflorescences of Centaurea cyanus (0.77 mg/mL). (13)