Corncockle Agrostemma githago

Best Time to See
Habitat Arable, Farmland

A slender pink flower of European wheat fields, the Corncockle was seen in the 19th century as very common.

Its seeds were harvested and re-sown for the following season, until it began to decrease rapidly, beginning most noticeably in 1952.The plant was seen as a pest by farmers for hundreds of years but now is rarely seen due to the farming putting it at risk with their improved seed cleaning techniques.

Corncockle is 1 metre tall and covered with fine hairs. It has few branches and they are each tipped with a single deep pink to purple scentless flowers. They are 25mm to 50mm across and each petal bears 2 or 3 discontinuous black lines. The leaves are pale green and are 45mm to 145mm long.


Corncockle originated in Oxfordshire, England in the Iron Age. It is part of the Caryophyllaceae family and is known to occur throughout much of the USA, parts of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is now virtually extinct in the wild and is a poisonous plant, despite it previously being used in folk medicines.


Corncockle can mainly be found in fields, roadsides, railway lines and waste places as it relies on open ground to re-establish itself. Although it can be secured on most soils, it does particularly well on free draining sandy loams.

Best time to see:

It is produced in the summer months from May to September.

Did you know?

Corncockle is known locally as Cat's Eyes.