Thursday, September 06, 2007

Blue, Blue Chicory

Chicory blossom

I love the color of chicory flowers. It's an invasive weed that grows in the worst soils, but Cichorium intybus L. (chicory, blue sailors, coffeeweed, succory) looks so cheerful in bloom. Cultivated chicory is used for a coffee substitute (roots ground and roasted), as a cooked green (fried, with garlic), and as a salad green (Belgian endive), although I understand the roadside weed doesn't perform well in any of these capacities. The bumblebees seem to like it, though.

Bumblebee on chicory blossom


Reya Mellicker said...

Is there such a thing as a non-invasive plant? Given the right conditions, won't anything that lives and grows take over?

I'm not being philosophical, I really am curious.

Rebecca Clayton said...

That's an interesting question! Most of the plants that grow in and around cities and on farms are on the invasive side, so we're all most familiar with invasive plants.

The National Arboretum has a really nice page on invasive plants:

Where I grew up, trees were definitely not invasive. If you wanted a tree in your yard, you had to baby it, water it in the summer, and sooner or later, an ice storm would break it off, and you'd need to plant another one.

Larry said...

I also like that shade of blue. Chicory is invasive but seems to prefer disturbed soil. I've seen flocks of goldfinches busily working over roadside patches of chicory, assiduously gleaning the seeds.

Reya Mellicker said...

I had a friend who thought it would be fun to plant a whole garden of invasive plants, then stand back and see who would "win."

Thanks, Rebecca!

wvvista101 said...

I love the Chicory color. The subject and the photographs are why I've pretty much given up the daily "news" in favor of what I find on Pocahontas County Fare.

As for "invasive" species it seems to me that -- at least in an ordinary, non-technical understanding of the word, all plants are invasive if you take the long view. I think the earth was around for at least a few billion years before the first plant appeared.

Dave said...

I like chicory, too. Its dried and roasted roots work well in beer (as do dandelion roots, which tastes almost exactly the same).

mysticalfeet said...

I have seen relatively few native Hawaiian plants, here on Oahu, and many I love are non-native invasives. But then, I guess, so are we...On another note, chicory is one of my favorite roadside flowers. We didn't have it in Northern California, when I lived there, and I thrilled to see it when I'd return to Virginia and find it coloring the roadsides. A particularly serene shade of blue.