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Protocyanin is an anthocyanin pigment that is responsible for the red colouration of roses, but in cornflowers is blue. The pigment was first isolated in 1913 from the blue cornflower,[1] and the identical pigment was isolated from a red rose in 1915.[2] The difference in colour was previously explained as a difference in flower-petal pH,[2] but the pigment in the blue cornflower has been shown to be a supermolecular pigment consisting of a complex of anthocyanin, flavone, one ferric iron, one magnesium and two calcium ions. [3]

The molecular formula of protocyanin complex is of the type of C366H384O228FeMg.


  1. ^ Willstätter R & Everest RW (1913). "Untersuchungen über die Anthocyane. I. Über den Farbstoff der Kornblume". Justus Liebigs Ann Chem 401: 189–232. doi:10.1002/jlac.19134010205.  
  2. ^ a b Willstätter R & Mallison H (1915). "Untersuchungen über die Anthocyane. X. Über Variationen der Blütenfarben". Justus Liebigs Ann Chem 408: 147–162. doi:10.1002/jlac.19154080110.  
  3. ^ Shiono M, Matsugaki N, Takeda K (2005). "Structure of the blue cornflower pigment". Nature 436: 791. doi:10.1038/436791a.  


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