Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, River to River CWMA, bugwood.org
Growth Characteristics: A somewhat invasive plant that flowers late spring through the middle of fall.
Flowers: The flowers have numerous parts and are up to 1.5 inches wide. They are light blue normally, but sometimes are white or pink. The rays have toothed lips. The flowers open and close daily.
Fruits/Seeds: Fruit is seed-like, with tiny scales at the tip.
Leaves: Alternate, irregularly toothed and lobed. Basal leaves in a rosette, toothed, large and spreading. Lower leaves thickly covered with hairs. Base of leaves clasps stems.
Stems: Thick and strong, glabrous to bristly, 2 to 6 feet tall. The stems are very irregularly branched, are twig-like, and contain a milky sap.
Often found in fields, along fencerows, and in waste places. The deep taproot enables it to grow in hard packed, rocky ground. It is drought tolerant, and can be invasive. It is listed as a noxious weed in Colorado.
Soils: Prefers well-drained soils, but can grow on a wide variety of soils.
Chicory was introduced as a pasture forage plant, but was found too course to be an effective pasture plant.
The very young leaves can be eaten fresh in salads and the older, bitter leaves can be boiled in several waters and eaten. The best known use of this plant is as a coffee additive or substitute. The roots are roasted and ground to make chicory coffee which has no caffeine.