Chicory (2017-07-08 14-31-15a)
Common Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a perennial herbaceous plant. It usually has bright blue or lavender flowers, but, on rare occasion, they may be white or pink. They are a little less than an inch to and inch and a half in diameter. When flowering (July through October), the stem can be 10 to 40 inches tall.
The leaves are stalked, lanceolate (long, but wide in the middle), and unlobed. The lower leaves, which look like dandelion leaves, are larger. It has a tap root similar to that of a dandelion.
Chicory is native to Mediterranean Europe but has become quite common in North America and Australia. It is often found growing along the sides of roads, open areas, grassy areas near parking lots, and ‘weedy’ fields all over most of Canada and the U.S.
NOTE: In the USA, the name chicory is sometimes used for the curly endive (Cichorium endivia), a closely related species.
Chicory is edible:
Leaves, which are bitter, can be used for salads. They are tastiest in spring and autumn, tending to be a bit bitter in the summer. Blanching them can reduce the bitterness. They can be used in a salad or mature leaves can be used as a stand-alone vegetable.
The roots can be baked, ground up, and used as a coffee substitute or additive. The famous Cafe du Monde coffee from New Orleans contains chicory.
The flowers are edible but bitter.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales offers a chicory stout.
It can also be used for foraging livestock.
The photo was taken at St. Paul’s Woods in Morton Grove, Illinois. It is part of the Cook County Forest Preserve system.The photo was taken using a Mikon Coolpix P7700 camera using the close-up option with no macro accessories. I used ACDSee Ultimate 10.4 to adjust the lighting and boost the contrast and vibrance.
Photo and Text © 2017 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.