Ruskin's Botanical Drawings

John Ruskin, Perennial Cornflower, RF1544 © Ruskin Foundation

Ruskin, John (1819-1900)

Perennial Cornflower
4 3/8 X 4 in.
Pencil and brown ink

RF 1544


Ruskin made many drawings of the thistle and associated plants, which in Proserpina he describes as part of “a vast company of rough, knotty, half-black or brown, and generally unluminous – flowers I can scarcely call them – and weeds I will not.” (25.292)

This flower is difficult to identify with certainty. It may be a Knapweed, but the overall shape and form strongly suggest that it is of the Perennial Cornflower (Centaurea montana L.; Daisy family – Asteraceae). The complex flower head (capitulum) is composed of numerous violet or blue (sometimes white), small flowers (florets), densely packed together, the outer ones being much longer than those in the centre. Perennial Cornflower is a common, often ‘casual’, cottage-garden plant.

This entry was researched and written by Professor David Ingram.