"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Enjoy The Beauty Of Chicory
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Scifres

The summer wildflowers are in bloom now and the beautiful powder-blue flower of chicory is enough to qualify it as the state flower.

 “Oh!” The purists may say in their most haughty manner, “chicory is not native . . . it came here from Europe . . . we want a native as our state flower.”

Well, whatta you know, the peony, our state flower “zince” the Indiana General Assembly saddled us with it 1957, is not even a wildflower. From 1931 to 1957 it was the zinnia, another interloper. It’s not wild either.

Generally, the folks of Indiana agree that our state flower should be a wildflower. 

You may consider the purist’s statement true if you like, but when our forefathers brought chicory to this country many things were new. And chicory has spread with the four winds to blanket most--maybe all--of the land. In addition to its many uses (including coffee from ground roasted roots), it is a breathtaking beauty at our roadsides for all of our citizens to see.

Chicory is a funny “weed” and very durable, the blossoms enduring and endearing for only the better part of one day before being replaced by a new set on the same plant.

If our state flower should be one of long duration, Chicory is a solid candidate for it is with us from early summer through late fall (even after frost comes). Few flowers other than Queen Anne’s Lace and the various Asters can make such a statement, and it takes a good field guide to give them names (scientific or common). But Chicory is chicory to everybody, (Chicgorium intybus to scientists).

As for the staying power of Chicory, I have had a sturdy plant in a strip of grass near my mailbox (no doubt crab grass) for many years. It fails to bloom in the early part of summer when the lawn mower keeps it well pruned. But in late summer and fall (when the lawnmower is used less frequently) it blooms its little head off, and I enjoy it.

Incidentally, Queen Anne’s Lace does not seem to be doing as well as it usually does along the roadsides. But Poison Hemlock appears to be going wild in places. You will recognize it by the purple-splotched green stems. 

So enjoy the beauty of Chicory--even if the legislators don’t.

FOR BOATERS--The Department of Natural Resources says those who use boats or other outdoors paraphernalia in our lakes and streams can help control unwanted natural things.

Just clean your boat or other equipment you use before hopping to another body of water. That, the DNR says, will help prevent the interlopers.

Plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil, hydrilla and others can make waters virtually unusable and cause property values to plummet if spread. Creatures such as zebra mussels can clog drains and pipes. Fish diseases such as the emerging VHS (viral hemorrhagic septicemia) can result in large, widespread fish kills.

Simple steps can slow aquatic pests, the DNR says. Just remove all plants from boats and trailers before leaving the boat ramp; dispose of all unused baitfish, including fish parts, on shore (in a garbage receptacle). Never release them in the water; dry the boat, trailer and other gear, such as oars or skis, completely before going to another body of water. This includes draining the bilge, live wells, bait buckets and anything else that might contain water at the ramp.

"Indiana has some great aquatic resources; however, they are threatened by invading species of plants and disease that can destroy our natural resources and the recreational opportunities that come with them," said Doug Keller, Indiana's aquatic invasive species coordinator.


All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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