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PURPLE COCKLE, Lychnis Githago, Lam.
Other English name: Corn Cockle (used in England, where wheat is generally spoken of as “corn”).
Other Latin name: Agrostemma Githago, L.
(Noxious: Dom., N.W.)
Introduced. Annual and winter annual. Erect, 1 to 3 feet high; branches few; whole plant covered with soft siky hairs; not viscid. Leaves long and narrow, pointed, 2 to 5 inches long. Flowers purple, at the tips of the stems and branches, 1½ inches across; the petals notched at the apex, paler towards the center [sic]; calyx ovoid, much swollen in fruit, with the ribs very prominent, and the teeth long and conspicuous. Capsule ovoid, with five teeth at apex. Seeds [Plate 55, fig. 49—natural size and enlarged 4 times] pitchy black, varying from 1/12 to 1/8 of an inch in diameter, somewhat flattened, rounded triangular; the thin edge notched by the scar of attachment. Rough, covered with rows of short teeth.
Time of Flowering: July; seed ripe in August.
Propagation: By seed.
Occorrence: Grain fields.
Injury: An impurity in grain. the seed when ground with grain discolours the flour and renders it unwholesome, owing to the poisonous principle sapotoxin, which is found in this plant and some other Cockles.
Remedy: Thorough cleaning of seed grain. Hand-pulling when in small quantity. In districts where fall wheat is sown extensively, spring grains should be substituted for some time.” (p. 36)