Common Chicory

By mid summer, the landscape of the American Heartland is dominated by various shades of green.  While suburban yards and urban parks are festooned with a wide variety of flowering plants, only a handful of wildflowers add color to natural areas.  One of these is common chicory.

Native to Europe and introduced to North America and Australia, common chicory grows along our roadways, offering a regular splash of color from July through early October.  Its bright blue flowers, often called blue daisies, sprout from a tall woody stem and offer a pleasing contrast with the verdant background.  For thousands of years, humans have used the leaves and roots of this hardy perennial for salads, coffee, dietary supplements and a variety of herbal remedies; chicory is also widely utilized for livestock forage.

To most of us, however, common chicory is that ragged but attractive wildflower that brightens our country roads during the hot, dusty months of mid and late summer.  It lends itself more to our mental health than to our physical well being.