Corncockle is a plant 30-80 cm tall, evenly covered with long, soft and gray hairs. Rhizome peg-shaped, thin, weakly branched. The stem is simple, erect, rounded and covered with leaves.
Leaves without leaflets, simple, oppositely arranged, sessile, fused at the base, linear or linear-lanceolate, pointed, with an entire margin, length 3-13cm, width 2-10mm.
The flowers of the Corncockle are relatively large, single, arranged at the tops of the stems, regular. The flower consists of five, whole, inverted ovate petals, dark pink in color, with a faint remnant at the tip of the petal.
Fruit - one nest box, many-seeded, ovoid, 30-40 seeds on average. The seeds are large, 2.5-3.5mm, bean-shaped, slightly flattened, almost black, covered with sharp spines.
The Corncockle reproduces with the help of seeds, which practically 100% germinate and retain germination for up to 10 years. They can sprout both in autumn and in spring, and autumn sprouts overwinter well.
Corncockle for folk medicine is collected in summer, June-July, during the flowering of the plant. Collect the stems, leaves and flowers, but the seeds and roots in autumn, after the seeds have matured. The plant is dried in a well-ventilated and shaded place on sieves. The plant is stored in a cotton bag or plastic box, away from other drugs - because this plant is poisonous. Store the plant for no longer than 18 months.
Up to 7% of the poisonous glycoside gitagin is found in the seeds of the Corncockle , which consists of agrostemic acid, vegetable fats, lecithin, starch and dyes that are similar to the dyes found in black grains.
The plant is protected and included in the red book of the Baltic Sea region.
The medicinal properties of the Corncockle are based on the properties of its seeds. They act as diuretics, stop bleeding and promote expectoration, and are also often used as an anthelmintic. The above-ground part of the plant is poorer from a medicinal point of view, basically the effect is similar to the effect of the seeds - diuretic, anthelmintic and bleeding stopping properties. The plant has also been observed to have analgesic and sleep-inducing effects.
In folk medicine, the Corncockle is rarely used, because its seeds are strongly poisonous. It is necessary to treat with Corncockle preparations under the supervision of a specialist.
Medicinal plants are used to treat colds, respiratory infections and viral diseases, abdominal pain and uterine bleeding.
Externally, the plant is used in compresses, applications, as a rinse to treat hemorrhoids and various skin diseases.