Cichorium intybus - Chicory

Asteraceae


Chicory is native to Europe. It can be weedy in some crop situations, and is often seen in great numbers along roadsides, ditches, and fencerows. I rarely see the plant in well-maintained nursery crops.

As a matter of liability, this website does not recommend eating any wild plant. Nonetheless, leaves of chicory are supposedly prized in French salads, and the roots are used as a coffee additive.

Chicory is a perennial that spreads by seed. It grows 2 to 5 feet tall and in clumps of variable width.

Plants are most often seen along roadsides or in abandoned lots. I rarely see this plant in maintained nursery crops. Below it is growing in an orchard (cherries?).

Rosettes are variable, but generally resemble those of dandelion. Leaves are pinnately lobed, 6 to 8 inches long, and sparsely pubescent.

Cauline leaves are sessile and clasp the stem.

Stems are ridged and often have a red-purple coloration.

Chicory flowers are among the prettiest blue color I've seen on any plant. If not for its scraggly habit and spreading nature, it might make a fine ornamental.

Flower heads are composite blue ray flowers. Each head is approximately 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter.

As if the stark blue color weren't a dead give-away, another identification characteristic would be the glandular involucre. You may have to click on the image to enlarge it and see the small spherical bodies attached to the involucre.


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