Tuesday, October 10, 2017

C.P. Lyons

C.P. "Chess" Lyons (1915-1998) was a Regina-born, Okanagan-raised naturalist famous for his botanical field guides. Given his eye for detail and subtle wit, it is not surprising that artists are drawn to his work. Brian has a number of Lyon's books at his ranch; and of those who came to visit this past weekend, more than a couple arrived with copies of their own.

Here is Lyon's description of Blue Sailors (Cichorium intybus), also known as Chicory or Batchelor's Buttons:

Blue Sailors is included as a wildflower although it could be more properly classed as an escape from cultivation. The bright blue flowers have taken their name from an old legend concerning a sailor's sweetheart who was deserted but nevertheless kept a faithful watch for him. The gods took pity on her and turned her into this plant which still haunts the roadsides from July to September.

The deep taproot has been used considerably in the past as a coffee substitute. The occurrence of the blue sailors near the sites of early-day construction camps may be due to this use when coffee was extremely scarce. The tissuey blue flowers, from 1"-1.5" across, usually open in the morning but close in the afternoon.

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