Chicory Plant is easily recognized by its bright, pale blue flowers, growing along roadsides as well as in open meadows. The delicate petals on this woody plant have serrated or "toothed" edges. They bloom from June to September. Mature plants range in color from green to reddish-brown. Alternating flower buds line each stem and lines of fine white hairs run along the undersides of the leaves. Leaves usually appear only on the lower half of the plant. The flowers are self-seeding and produce dry brown seed pods. It is a biennial with cultivars bred especially for harvesting more palatable versions of its edible leaves and roots. It flowers in its second year, then dies when it frosts. It is a testament to the resilience of nature, thriving in places with poor, disturbed soil and little shelter from the elements.
Whether you're growing chicory for its sweet, slightly ragged appearance or its nutritional value, this plant will prefer well-drained, heavy soil with plenty of organic matter. It is very drought-tolerant and does well on the rocky ground. The roots can be harvested as a coffee substitute. The young leaves are sometimes used raw in salads, while older leaves are blanched before eating. Gardeners recommend cutting off the flower heads before the plant can self-seed so that it won't take over the area. Otherwise, it requires no maintenance at all. It can be used in landscaping as an accent among other plants of a similar height or set behind groups of shorter plants. It would also make an ideal addition to a wildflower meadow. The plant also attracts insect pollinators but is not particularly appealing to deer and other mammals.