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Cichorium intybus

ChickoryThis member of the sunflower family bears several stalkless, showy, blue flower heads on a stiff stem.

The flowers heads are 1 1/2 inches wide and the leaves are 3 - 6 inches long and are dandelion-like. Height of the plant is 1 to 4 feet.

As many weeds, it has a large taproot and it flowers in fields, roadsides from June through October.

The genus of 8 species of annuals and perennials is from the Mediterranean but the plant has long ago spread throughout the world and flourishes throughout North America.

A European form of the plant's root is cultivated as a coffee substitute. Chicory is also cultivated for its young leaves which are sold, along with those of its cousin Cichorium endivia, as endive or escarole.

Contact with all parts of the plant may irritate skin or aggravate skin allergies.

To cultivate chicory, grow in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun in zones 4 - 8.

To propagate, sow seeds in a cold frame in autumn or spring.

Photos by Ed Utz

Tip: When creating new beds and lawn always go for a soil test.