Chicory – Roadside Plant in Country and City

Chicory – Cichorium intybus

I remember chicory as a common flower of vacant lots and streetside  hellstrips of my urban childhood. It seems odd to me that I see it so rarely now that I live in the country where my town  has lots of dirt roads, and where even the paved roads are edged by sandy soil and woodlands or fields.

I’ve always loved the  blue flowers of chicory, and I did know that the roots were sometimes dried and ground and used as a coffee substitute.  I didn’t know that root chicory was Cichorium intybus var. sativum. Of course, chicory leaves are also edible, but are not to be confused with the salad green sold as chicory but which is really witlof or Belgian endive. Neither is it what the Italians call radicchio

I was delighted to find this little clump of chicory with its beautiful blue flowers blooming in the parking lot where I left my car yesterday afternoon. This is my childhood memory of a tough, beautiful flower blooming in a less  than beautiful spot. This is a flower that could catch a young child’s imagination, blooming where no flower could be expected.

To hear stories of more wildflowers click here.  Thank you Gail, for hosting Wildflower Wednesday.


This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Rose

    I’ve always loved these blue flowers, too, Pat, even though others think of it as a weed. You may not see much of it anymore, but we have no shortage of it here, popping up all over our farm. My favorite combination is when it blooms alongside Queen Anne’s Lace along the roadside–as pretty as any planned planting!

  2. Lea

    Very pretty!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!

  3. Wrenaissance Art

    Some of my favorite wildflowers are the ones that pop up in parking lots and sidewalk cracks! Thanks for sharing this very pretty blossom. 🙂

  4. Pat

    Rose – I was reading that it is OK in pastures because it kills parasites in cows as they eat it.
    Lea – Thanks for visiting on Wildflower Wednesday.
    Wren – I appreciate the vitality of these wild plants.

  5. Jeane

    This plant grows all over the place in my neighborhood. I’ve thought of digging up roots to try the coffee-substitute (out of mere curiosity- I’ve done it with dandelions that grew in my garden) but the chicory all grows at roadsides and I’m concerned about toxins from exhaust fumes. It has such a pretty blue!

  6. Pat

    Jeane – I’d worry about roadside roots too, but the blue is beautiful and safe wherever it grows.

  7. Gail

    I love the blue and recently have learned to somewhat appreciate the taste as a coffee substitute! Happy WW

  8. Shirley

    The bright blue of chicory popping up in some of the most trampled urban areas has always fascinated me too.

    Beautiful find for WW!

  9. Hannah

    I also have admired the blue flowers seen in many roadside or vacant spots here. I finally ordered some Chicory seeds from an Italian company and grew them, they are like a large leaved dandelion and a tasty potherb, then the next year they went to seed and make rather large plants with the lovely blue flowers. I’ll see if they volunteer next year.

  10. Pat

    Shirley – Maybe one of the reasons for fascination is simply that color blue!
    Hannah – How great to find chicory seeds for sale. I’ll have to look.

  11. judithharper

    I have painted them several times combined with Queen Ann’s Lace make a lovely bouquet.

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