succory



succory defined in 1913 year

succory - Succory (Cichorium intybus);
succory - Stiff, straight stems, rough and ribbed, bordered the road which lay like a curving, white ribbon under the late summer sun, and each stem was decked with sundry blue-rayed stars set close upon it, stars which somewhat reminded one of the dandelions lying on the ground around, only they were fewer-rayed" and of a glorious blue instead of a crude yellow. The brilliant blue showed up in special contrast to the white of the chalk that gleamed from between the herbage and from the bare road, and this star-studding turned the ugly stems into quite fairy wands. No wonder "The Professor at the Breakfast Table" found "the tall-stemmed Succory, setting its pale blue flowers aflame, one after the other, sparingly as the lights are kindled in the candelabra of decaying palaces where the heirs of dethroned monarchs are dying out," a plant that is "a ray of the Divine beauty." A chalky soil and the dry roadside form its favourite environment: -

"Oh', not in ladies' gardens
My peasant posy,
Smile thy dear blue eyes,
Nor only - nearer to the skies
In upland pastures, dim and sweet,
But by the dusty road
Where tired feet
Toil to and fro,
Where flaunting Sin
May see thy heavenly hue
Or weary Sorrow look from thee
Towards a heavenly blue!"
(Margaret Deland.)

All up the stem at intervals are placed the blue blooms - not flowers, pace the Professor - for each is a composite head of a number of florets, quite stalkless and in pairs (though just occasionally there are three together). Those still in the bud stage are long, narrow, blunt-pointed, enclosed in six or eight enfolding green bracts which have a row of minute, erect hairs running down their backs, the hairs being tipped with glands. Below each pair of blooms is a leaf, stalkless, clasping the stem and narrow, long and pointed. Lower down the leaves are larger and coarser and cut into side lobes, in addition to the main, terminal lobe; this intersecting allows the light to pass between to the hairy leaves that, at the base, spread right on the ground.

The blooms that are open - and they open between six and seven every morning - can be seen to have two tiers of protecting bracts all with rows of glandular hairs, the outermost and shorter turned-back ones having also a fringe 6f these hairs. The bloom itself certainly looks far more like an ordinary single flower than a flower-colony, for it is composed of a ring of blue rays corresponding to ordinary petals with a centre of stamen-like objects. But if one looks carefully one finds that to every petal there is a corresponding erect column, and the two together form a complete flower. Therefore each blue ray, instead of being a single petal, is really five petals joined together into a five-notched strap, which curls round near its base to form a tube.

If one of these florets be carefully drawn entire out of the bloom it will be found to have, at the very bottom, a tiny, cream-coloured ovary rather flattened from side to side. At the top of this, instead of the ring of hairs, so usual in the members of the Compositæ family, there is a ring of minute scales to represent the calyx. Then comes the little white petal tube fringed with hairs and expanding into the long, blue ray. Peering into the tube shows one that there are five white filaments running down to the ovary and supporting a long, greenish-blue column - their united five anthers. If one examines a bloom in the early morning one sees that this column is surmounted by a pile of white grains. As the day passes one finds that this pile was formed by a piston pushing up through the hollow anther-tube and pressing out its contents - as if a sweep pushed the soot up through the top of the chimney instead of bringing it down. The piston rod - the style - goes qji growing and pushing and, ultimately gets right through the pile. White pollen grains adhere to it, and soon above the anther column stands another column, white, because thickly coated with shining grains. Finally, this piston column opens into two branches which stand curling outwards right above the grains, but not a single grain has so far touched the surface of the fork, thick as they are on the column beneath it.

Now the Succory is a typical humble-bee flower, its colouring - "Succory to match the sky," said Emerson - specially appealing to the Bombus bees, and when they come no doubt they will bring pollen from other blooms, or maybe only from adjacent florets, and this will be deposited on the fork. But in any case in the early afternoon the bloom closes, its petal-rays draw together, the central columns are all pressed one against another, and those curling forks necessarily touch the pollen-coated styles of their neighbours and thus fertilisation happens. Linnaeus used the Chicory as one of the flowers in his Floral Clock at Upsala because of its regularity in opening at five a.m. and closing at ten a.m. in that latitude. The fruit of this plant consists of hard, dry little objects packed on to the flat stalk-end.

But the big tap root of the Succory is, after all, the part that is really familiar to everyone, though one does not recognise it in the dark brown grains that are mixed with one's coffee. It is thick and white and rather hard, and for commercial purposes it is sliced, kiln-dried and roasted, and then ground up. It has no aroma, and none of the alkaloid "caffeine," but it is often thought actually to improve the coffee that it adulterates. In Belgium it is used as a drink without any admixture of coffee. Enormous quantities of the plant are cultivated to provide the grocers with "chicory." Abroad, too, the young and tender roots are boiled and eaten with butter as a very palatable vegetable.

It is suggested that the name Succory came from the Latin succurrere, "to run under," because of the depth to which the root penetrates. Perhaps, however, it is only a corruption of "Chicory," or "Cichorium," a word of Egyptian origin, which in various forms is the name of the plant with practically every European nation. The Arabian physicians called it "Chicourey," and after the Conquest their influence and writings permeated everywhere.

But the plant makes yet another appeal on the edible side. The French winter salad, "Barbe de Capucin," consists of its blanched leaves. The seeds are sown in heat and kept in the dark, or else young plants sown in May are taken up in the autumn, their older leaves cut off, their roots shortened, and then planted in the dark. The young, on-coming leaves develop without green colour.

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