Chicory, Road Aster
Synonyms of Chicorium intybus (30) (Updated on 5-4-21 from Plants of the World Online): Cichorium balearicum Porta, Cichorium byzanthinum Clementi, Cichorium caeruleum Gilib., Cichorium callosum Pomel, Cichorium casnia C.B.Clarke, Cichorium cicorea Dumort., Cichorium commune Pall., Cichorium cosnia Buch.-Ham., Cichorium divaricatum Heldr. ex Nyman, Cichorium glabratum C.Presl, Cichorium glaucum Hoffmanns. & Link, Cichorium hirsutum Gren., Cichorium intybus f. album Farw., Cichorium intybus subsp. balearica (Porta) Gand., Cichorium intybus var. callosum (Pomel) Maire, Cichorium intybus f. crispum Makino, Cichorium intybus subsp. glabratum (C.Presl) Wagenitz & U.Bedarff, Cichorium intybus var. glabratum (C.Presl) Gren. & Godr., Cichorium intybus subsp. glaucum (Hoffmanns. & Link) Tzvelev, Cichorium intybus f. rubicunda Farw., Cichorium intybus subsp. sativum (Gaudin) Janch., Cichorium intybus f. sativum (Gaudin) Bisch., Cichorium intybus f. sylvestre Bisch., Cichorium officinale Gueldenst. ex Ledeb., Cichorium perenne Stokes, Cichorium rigidum Salisb., Cichorium sylvestre Garsault, Cichorium sylvestre Lam., Hieracium cichorium E.H.L.Krause
Cichorium intybus L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species. The genus and species were both named and described by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. Cichorium intybus subsp. spicatum is the only accepted infraspecific name listed on Plants of the World Online.
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 7 species in the Cichorium genus (as of when I last updated this page on 5-4-21). It is a member of the plant family Asteraceae with 1,679 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made (and likely will).
As you can see from the map above from Plants of the World Online, Cichorium intybus is found throughout much of the world. Areas in green are where it is native and purple is where they have been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is the same. The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A POSITIVE ID.
There are quite a few Cichorium intybus, commonly known as Chicory or Road Aster, growing in the pasture, and along the highways and back roads. If you have ever been driving down the highway or a back road and wondered what the blue flowers were, this is probably what they are. It is one of the many members of the Asteraceae Family along with Dandelions.
Other common names include Blue Daisy, Blue Dandelion, Blue Sailors, Blue Weed, Bunk, Coffeeweed, Cornflower, Hendibeh, Horseweed, Ragged Sailors, Succory, Wild Bachelor’s Buttons, and Wild Endive.
The rosette of the young plants look very similar to Dandelions but are usually somewhat reddish. I want to give special thanks to Pamela Trewath of the Missouri State University for allowing me to share photos from the Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers website.
After a while, their rosettes become fairly large and the flowering stems begin to emerge. Flowering stems can grow to around 36″ tall, give or take.
Wikipedia says the roots of the Cichorium intybus var. sativum are ground, baked, and used as a coffee substitute. It is also closely related to Cichorium endivia which is also called Chicory and Curly Endive which is popular in salads.
An extract from the root of Cichorium intybus, inulin, is used as a sweetener and a source of dietary fiber.
Some information says that their flowers are only open in the morning but I took these photos in the afternoon. In fact, I don’t remember ever seeing their flowers closed but I am not always paying attention. I have been surprised at how many flowers of various species of plants do close in the afternoon and evening. Pretty annoying when you have to go back and re-take photos or only have time in the late afternoon or early evening.
The stems contain a milky sap similar to species of the Euphorbiaceae Family. Ummm… The stems kind of remind me of Euphorbia tirucalli.
Making a positive ID by the flowers is very easy, however, the color can be “variable”. I have seen flowers that were darker blue and so light they almost appeared white, as well as blue and white bi-color. Some information online suggests they can also be pink but that is quite rare.
The USDA Plants Database shows Cichorium intybus can be found in every state in the U.S. although it considered a native of Europe. They can be found in “almost” every country in the world now.
Cichorium intybus is a very important medicinal plant. The link below to PumMed Central is very informative.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 100 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at email@example.com. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
*PumMed Central ® is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.
NOTE: The figures may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates (and if they update their sources or even read what they say). Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates at least once a year and when I write new pages but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂