Saturday, 11 July 2015

Ragged sailors

A sunny visit to Bradford yesterday led to the discovery of this lovely wildflower whose beauty is completed by the presence of an appreciative Large Skipper. The plant was blooming exuberantly on a blessedly un-mown common opposite my sister's house and we wondered what it was.

The answer to quandaries like this, nowadays, is to Tweet, or in this case send an Instagram photo linked to Twitter. I despatched a composite of the flower from various angles and back came the perfect and prompt reply from Dave Simpson - @nemumDave on Twitter: 'It looks like Chicory, scientific name Cichorum intybus.

I like the 'intybus' - sounds like a transport company to rival all the Stagecoaches and Tubes we have round here. But thanks again, Dave, nice to have a beautiful flower chicory to go with the delicious and related endive type of veg.

This morning, being full of chicory news to pass on to everyone I met, I discovered that we have chicory on our doorstep too. A couple of neighbours found some recently and had a good-natured argument, one of them maintaining that they were cornflowers. Being, temporarily, a huge expert on chicory thanks to my overnight researches, I was able to offer a compromise on this: the chicory flower's many, lovely common names such as Ragged Sailors, Blue Dandelion and Wild Bachelor's Button, also sometimes include Cornflower, although the plant is different from the bright blue flowers which claim precedence to that name.

In mediaeval times, you were thought to be able to open doors with Chicory and it is also thought to be the inspiration of the Blue Flower found in German literature and the novel by Penelope Fitzgerald which carries that name.  But that's enough instant flower lore...  Back in the moth trap, I had squillions of arrivals last night. My favourites are this contrasting pair: the Blackneck, which has a dark mark on a light background, and the Dot moth, which has a light one on dark.  The Blackneck isn't all that common, so I am pleased.

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