Along the fence line to my right, I see a mass of beautiful sky-blue flowers.
That's an unusual flower color, and yesterday these flowers weren't here. How did they get here overnight? I know, but I'll check out these lovely flowers anyway.
They're called chicory, although I met them years ago as "Blue Lettuce." I get out of the car and walk over to a plant that's on my side of the fence. These weeds are within a group of the sunflower family that often have a "sleep habit." They bloom with the morning light and then close up during the heat of the day. So this morning they're blooming and yesterday in the afternoon they had closed, or "gone to sleep."
What a "nothing plant!" The thick, stiff stem is over three feet tall with almost no leaves. There are buds and single flowers scattered along the stem ...
they look like they're glued to it.
In the sunflower family, the blossoms come in different ways: both ray and disk flowers (as in a common sunflower), all disk flowers (as a thistle) or with only ray flowers (as a dandelion). Chicory has only ray flowers (what we often call "petals." Each ray flower has five lobes at the tip which show clearly in Al Schneider's photo. There are curled structures — the stigma lobes. And at the base of each is a bluish tube which is filled with white pollen. The stigma must push its way up through the tube and is thereby covered with white pollen. Now that's a real insurance policy for self-pollination! This extraordinary structure is found in many members of the sunflower family, but the parts are so small that we're often unaware of them.
While Al's photo shows the beauty of the flower, my line drawing shows more clearly the habit of growth. Watch in the mornings for this lovely weed along fences and ditches in our area.blog comments powered by Disqus