Common Name: Common Chicory.
Scientific Name: Cichorium Intybus.
What to look for? Small, light-blue flowers seemingly scattered about the mowed edges of our pathways. In undisturbed areas, the Common Chicory generally has a single, tall, green to reddish brown twig-like stem. The oblong, green leaves are located toward the base of the stem. Multiple flowerheads are widely spaced along the stalks. Each flowerhead has up to twenty, light-blue ray florets or petals. The achenes or seeds are oblong. Common Chicory spreads by reseeding itself. The root system consists of a taproot, but there are no rhizomes.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Common Chicory may be found off the pathway between the Carillon Stonegate Ponds. It will also be found creeping into the restored prairie at Stonegate Park.
How big are they? Common Chicory may grow from one (1) to three (3) feet tall – a couple inches if it met a mower! The oblong leaves are two (2) to six (6) inches long and one (1) or so inches across. Each flower is about one (1) inch across.
Where do they grow and thrive? Common Chicory occurs throughout most of Illinois, but is not native. This plant originated from Eurasia. It is also found across most of the U.S. and into Canada. These plants thrive in prairies, upland forests, savannas, limestone glades, pastures and abandoned fields, and areas along railroads and roadsides.
When do they bloom? The blooming period of the Common Chicory can occur from early summer to early fall, depending on the weather and the timing of disturbances (such as occasional mowing). The flowerheads bloom during the morning, and close-up later in the day.
Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The flowers of the Common Chicory provide nectar and pollen to a variety of bees and some other insects. Several types of grasshoppers eat the foliage of Common Chicory.
Interesting Facts About the Common Chicory:
Lore has it that a famous botanist used this flower as his floral clock in Sweden because at this latitude it regularly opened at 5 AM and closed at 10 AM.
In the Old World, the roots of chicory (known also as succory in England) were dried and roasted for use as a coffee substitute.
Chicory originated in the Mediterranean and became distributed throughout much of the world where it was grown for centuries as a salad green.
In one legend telling of chicory's origin, a beautiful maiden refused the advances of the Sun and was turned into a chicory flower that had to stare at the Sun each day and always faded in the presence of its might.
For more information on Common Chicory and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Friends of the Wildflower Garden, and The Ohio State University Weed Guide.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!