chicory (Cichorium intybus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
coffee chicory
wild chicory
blue sailors
chicory
coffeeweed
common chicory
succory

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Cichorium balearicum Porta
Cichorium byzantinum Clem.
Cichorium caeruleum Gilib.
Cichorium cicorea Dumort.
Cichorium commune Pall.
Cichorium cosnia Buch.-Ham.
Cichorium divaricatum Heldr. ex Nyman
Cichorium glabratum C.Presl
Cichorium glaucum Hoffmanns. & Link
Cichorium hirsutum Gren.
Cichorium officinale Gueldenst. ex Ledeb.
Cichorium perenne Stokes
Cichorium rigidum Salisb.
Cichorium sylvestre (Tourn.) Lam.
Cichorium sylvestre Garsault

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for common
chicory is Cichorium intybus L.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Habit: This introduced plant is usually 1½–3' high, branching occasionally.

The stems are variously colored, ranging from green to reddish brown. The

lower stems can be quite hairy, while the upper stems are nearly hairless.

 

Leaves: The alternate leaves are up to 8" long and 2" across, becoming

smaller as they ascend the stems. They are lanceolate or oblanceolate in

overall shape, and either pinnately lobed or dentate, the upper leaves hav-

ing smoother margins. Each leaf narrows gradually to a petiole-like base,

where it is either sessile or clasps the stem. There are usually conspicuous

hairs along the mid-vein of the lower leaf surface.

 

Flowers: The upper stems terminate in a long inflorescence that is either

spike-like, or an open branching panicle. Widely spaced along the flower-

ing stems, are sessile or nearly sessile flowerheads with short triangular

bracts. These flowerheads consist of 10-20 spreading ray florets that are

light blue, fading to white – they are about 1–1½" across. For each ray floret,

there is a light blue stamen, terminating in a blue anther. There are 5 small

teeth at the tip of each ray floret. The flowerheads bloom during the morn-

ing, and close-up later in the day, unless the skies are cloudy.

 

This species is easy to identify because of the appearance of these flower-

heads -– they are light blue, whereas similar plants in the Aster family usual-

ly have yellow flowerheads. However, some Lactuca spp. (Wild Lettuces)

have flowerheads consisting of light blue ray florets. These latter species

produce achenes with tufts of hair, whereas the achenes of wild chicory

have only small scales.

 

Fruit/Seeds: The achenes are oblong and 5-ribbed, with small scales at the

top.

 

Roots: The root system consists of a stout taproot.

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Common chicory spreads by reseeding
itself.

 

HABITAT TYPES: This plant originated from Europe and Asia. It has
been spreading steadily ever since and has become common, particularly
in disturbed open areas. Typical habitats include pastures, abandoned
fields, areas along roadsides and railroads, grassy areas that are not mow-

ed regularly, undeveloped real estate lots, and other waste areas. Occa-

sionally, common chicory invades disturbed areas of natural habitats (e.g.,

early stages of a prairie restoration), but it is not a serious invader of such

natural areas in the long run.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: This plant appears to prefer full sun and
a heavy soil that contains clay or gravel. It is typically found in locations
that are mesic to dry, and withstands drought rather well. The foliage can
appear rather battered-looking by the end of a hot, dry summer.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period can occur from
early summer to early fall, depending on the weather and the timing of
disturbances (such as occasional mowing).

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Common chicory is found throughout
the United States and all the southern Canadian provinces.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract
various kinds of insects, including both long-tongued and short-tongued
bees, Syrphid flies, Thick-headed flies, beetles, and the occasional butter-

fly. Because the foliage contains a bitter white latex, it probably is not a

preferred food source of mammalian herbivores, although cattle and sheep

reportedly eat the basal leaves.

 

The roots of common chicory have been roasted to create a coffee sub-

stitute; they are also used as an ingredient some herbal teas.

 

 

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