Cichorium intybus (Chicory)
|Also known as:||Blue Sailors, Wild Succory, Blue Dandelion|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; roadsides, disturbed sites, waste places, fields|
|Bloom season:||June - October|
|Plant height:||1 to 6 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Clusters of 1 to 4 velvety blue 1 to 2 inch dandelion type flower heads widely spaced along mostly naked branches. 5 to 6 small, loose outer bracts encase 6 to 8 inner bracts that tightly enclose the receptacle, all sparsely covered with glandular hairs on the outer surface. Typically 17 rays (petals), each ray with a blue stamen with deep blue fused anthers and a style with a split tip. The tip of each ray has 5 small teeth. Blooms open in the morning and close later in the day (matutinal).
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are alternate, 3 to 10 inches long by ½ to 2¾ inches wide, roughly hairy on both surfaces, the lower leaves dandelion like (oblanceolate), toothed or cleft becoming smaller, unlobed and mostly toothless as they ascend the stem.
Leaves mostly clasp the stem. Branching is strongly divergent from the axils, consistently around 45 degrees, giving dense stands an interwoven appearance. Stems are tough and smooth, more leafy and hairy down lower becoming hairless, more sparse and open up into the panicles. Stem color is green or reddish brown.
Notes:Chicory is a good example of an invasive species that remains sparsely scattered during early population establishment and then within a few short years shows up in masses everywhere. It is also a good example where the state's herbarium is not getting the collections it needs to document a new species spread—it's hard not to imagine its widespread throughout. Anybody thinking of getting into a new and interesting hobby? Mostly limited to roadsides and waste places but Chicory can encroach upon higher grade dry prairies. The flowers are much like the native Showy Blue Lettuce (Mulgedium pulchellum) but it is a smaller plant with smaller flowers in a more open panicle.
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Photo by K. Chayka taken at Battle Creek Regional Park, St Paul. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?