Cichorium intybus L.
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Duration: Biennial/ Perennial
Height: 1.25 m (up to 4 ft)
Blooming: July - October
Stem: green to rusty brown color.
Flowers: the light purplish blue flowerheads are up to 5 cm (2 in) in diameter. As with all other plants in the Asteraceae family, the flowerhead is a composite of many flowers making up the head. Small glandular hairs are scattered on the 2 rows of bracts surrounding the flowerhead.
Leaves: are alternately arranged reaching up to 25 cm (10 in) in length. The basal and lower leaves can be dentate like those of a dandelion.
Ideal conditions: open, disturbed habitats such as old fields, roadsides and old lots.
Comments: Chicory can come in white and reddish pink forms as well. It is native to Europe, western Asia, and Russia and can be invasive in disturbed habitats. It can tolerate most types of soil.
In a poem entitled, "Chicory", John Updike compared this persistent plant to the free soul who "will not thrive in cultivated soil: it must be free" growing on a piece of land that "God forgot". Updike dares to defend its behavior in a spectacular visual that leaves any reader hungry for some hard adventure.
Edibility: The leaves can be cooked or eaten straight off the plant with taste preference to the leaflets. Chicory root has been known to be a coffee substitute. Just bake, grind up, and brew (Eastman 2003).
Eastman, J.A. 2003. The Book of Field and Roadside: Open-Country Weeds, Trees, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA. pp. 103-106.
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