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Nature. 2005 Aug 11;436(7052):791.

Phytochemistry: structure of the blue cornflower pigment.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Graduate School of Science, Kyushu University, Hakozaki 6-10-1, Fukuoka 812-8581, Japan.


The same anthocyanin pigment makes roses red but cornflowers blue, a phenomenon that has so far not been entirely explained. Here we describe the X-ray crystal structure of the cornflower pigment, which reveals that its blue colour arises from a complex of six molecules each of anthocyanin and flavone, with one ferric iron, one magnesium and two calcium ions. We believe that this tetrametal complex may represent a previously undiscovered type of supermolecular pigment.

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