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CHICORY Cichorium intybus

The Psalmist expressed the wonders of creation in a unique way in these two couplets regarding the Almighty, “In whose hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; and His hands formed the dry land” Psalm 95:3-5.

Often the dimensions of creation are expressed as the four corners of the earth. In this Psalm the grandeur of His creation is expressed in rarely used dimensions, the earth’s depths and mountain peaks; the sea and dry land.

The wildflower for today is present from Florida to California and from British Columbia to New Brunswick. In Georgia it is more common in the mountains than along the coast. To follow the order of the couplets, above, today’s wildflower has a secondary name “blue sailor” but, ironically, the wildflower prefers dry land.

CHICORY

Cichorium intybus

Chicory blooms are one of the most beautiful blues in nature. The 1 1/2 inch flower-head is somewhat ragged compared to the oxeye daisy, the sunflower, or the asters. Its rays (petals), numbering from 12 to 20, are irregular in length with square-tipped ends that are sometimes saw-toothed. Thus a third name is “ragged sailor.”

The plant may grow as high as 4 feet, but more often it is about 2 feet. The stems are very rigid and often multi-branched. The leaves at ground level are large and toothed, reminding us of the common dandelion. The leaves along the stem and branches are few and smaller toward the top. The blooms only occur within 6 to 10 inches of the top of the stem or ends of the branches.

Only a few blooms occur on each plant at any time. Furthermore, the flower lasts only one day, often dropping off at noon. During cloudy weather the bloom may never open, then drops off at dusk.

The common habitat is dry fields, roadsides and other waste places. The blooming season runs from June through October. One fall in the 1980s, I was on business in Syracuse, N.Y. Behind the office building was a field covered with chicory. My host detected my fascination with the beauty and commented that this weed was a plague there of proportions to the common dandelion. In fact, another name for the flower is “blue dandelion.” (Sanders)

Chicory was introduced from Europe, probably during Colonial Days. The European variety is specifically cultivated for the root. Millions of pounds of it are dried and ground as a coffee additive, then shipped to many countries around the world. My personal introduction to chicory as a flavor enhancer to coffee came during the 1950s in Louisiana, especially when visiting homes in the Bayou Country.

This Sunday, the first day of the week, join with the people of faith who invite you with the next verse in today’s scripture, “Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” Psalm 95:6.

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Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.

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