Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday: Chicory

For this month's Wildflower Wednesday share, I have chosen a roadside perennial weed that is one of those love-it-or-hate-it plants -- Chicory (Cichorium intybus). Personally, I find Chicory quite charming. Those sky-blue flowers in mid- to late summer are a welcome sight growing out of the sidewalk cracks and along my hellstrip planting.

The stems are tough as old leather. Just try to pull them by hand., I dare you! After they finish flowering, I take a pruner and cut back the spindly foliage that tends to stick out at odd angles and that is all the maintenance I give it. Likes its cousin, the Dandelion, this is another edible weed that came over with the European settlers and quickly naturalized.

This plant has a long history of medicinal uses as well as folklore around it. Lately, it has been cultivated as a forage crop for horses.

I find it to be a lovely counterpoint to wild (ditch) daylilies. The colors are so striking together and they both tolerate roadside plantings with compacted, saline soils.

Occasionally, it blooms in white or pale pink hues, which is a treat to see. The flowers open in the morning and close up at night.

Sadly, Chicory makes a horrible cut-flower. I have attempted it a few times and find that it wilts fast. Best to enjoy it popping up in barren spots along your summer strolls and country drives.

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers from all over the world. It was started by Gail Eichelberger on her "Clay and Limestone" blog. It is always on the fourth Wednesday of the month.

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