Centaurea montana (perennial cornflower)
Detail of an illustration of Centaurea montana
Centaurea montana L.
perennial cornflower, mountain blue, perennial bachelor’s button, mountain cornflower
Subalpine meadows and open woods.
About this species
This low-growing perennial is widespread across much of central and southern Europe, and although not native to Britain is now naturalised in many parts of the British Isles. Centaurea montana has been grown in English gardens for centuries, and is a useful, if somewhat untidy, addition to a herbaceous border. It was probably introduced to Britain from elsewhere in Europe at some point during the 16th century.
The herbalist John Gerard certainly had it in his garden, and described ‘the great Blew-Bottle’ in his herbal of 1597, although he admitted that ‘the faculties of these floures are not sufficiently known’, implying, perhaps, that he had not grown it for long. In 1790, William Curtis, writing in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, still called this the ‘Greater Blue-Bottle’, a plant that ‘will grow in any soil or situation, some will think too readily’.