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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