PINK FAMILY - Caryophyllaceae: Corn Cockle; Corn Rose; Corn or Red Campion; Crown-of-the-Field
Flowers--Magenta or bright purplish crimson, 1 to 3 in. broad, solitary at end of long, stout footstem; 5 lobes of calyx leaf-like, very long and narrow, exceeding petals. Corolla of 5 broad, rounded petals; 10 stamens; 5 styles alternating with calyx lobes, opposite petals. Stem,: 1 to 3 ft. high, erect, with few or no branches, leafy, the plant covered with fine white hairs. Leaves: Opposite, seated on stem, long, narrow, pointed, erect. Fruit: a 1-celled, many-seeded capsule.
Preferred Habitat--Wheat and other grain fields; dry, waste places.
Distribution--United States at large; most common in Central and Western states. Also in Europe and Asia.
"Allons! allons! sow'd cockle, reap'd no corn," exclaims Byron in "Love's Labor's Lost." Evidently the farmers even in Shakespeare's day counted this brilliant blossom the pest it has become in many of our own grain fields just as it was in ancient times, when Job, after solemnly protesting his righteousness, called on his own land to bear record against him if his words were false. "Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley," he cried, according to James the First's translators; but the "noisome weeds" of the original text seem to indicate that these good men were more anxious to give the English people an adequate conception of Job's willingness to suffer for his honor's sake than to translate literally. Possibly the cockle grew in Southern Asia in Job's time: to-day its range is north.