This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Like other cultivated or casual plants, our knowledge of its range and age is derived from its present-day distribution in Europe. N. Africa, Siberia, N.W. India. In America it is only an introduction. In Great Britain it is found throughout the Peninsula, Channel, Thames, Anglia, Severn provinces. In S. Wales it is absent from Brecon. Radnor; in N. Wales from Montgomery and Merioneth. It is found throughout the Trent province, but not in the Mersey provinces, the Humber, Tyne, and Lakes provinces. It is rare in England, improbably native in Scotland, Ireland, and the Channel Islands.
Chicory is a casual plant which is always more or less a follower of man, being associated with weeds of cultivation. Sometimes it is found in towns, in areas fenced in as building plots, or in a cornfield, or perchance a fowl-run in an orchard.
This beautiful wild flower has a thick, yellow, milky, spindle-shaped root. The stem is rough, tall, rigid, wiry, twig-like, woody, with wide-spreading and ascending branches. The lower leaves have lobes each side of a stalk, turned backwards, slightly rough; the stem-leaves are smooth or nearly so, alternate, lance-shaped, clasping, entire, and axillary, paired, and more or less stalkless.
The flowerheads are of a beautiful blue colour, open in sunshine, but soon fading. They are stalkless, paired, borne in the axils of the upper leaves, or terminal. Linnaeus said they opened at 5 and closed at 10 at Upsala. Kerner, at Innsbruck, found them open at 6-7, closing at 2-3 p.m. The involucre is double, with lance-shaped phyllaries, broad at the base, and the outer ones are covered with a glandular fringe of hairs.
The stem is often 3 ft. high. The flowers are tall, blooming in July up to September. Chicory is a herbaceous perennial plant, propagated by division, coming up yearly in the same place, and worthy of cultivation.
In dull weather the flowerheads are closed, as at night also, but in the sun they expand 30 mm. The tube is 3 mm., and the limb 13 mm. long, and by this means it is rendered conspicuous in spite of the few flowers. The flowers are similar in plan to those of the Dandelion and Hawkweeds, but the branches of the style are more curved, making two spiral turns. If insects do not visit it, it pollinates itself. The honey bee, Andrena, Halictus, Osmia, Diptera, Syrphidae, Syritta pipiens, Eristalis tenax, Lepidoptera, the Clouded Yellow Butterfly (Colias edusa), and a beetle, Ma-lachius bipustulatus, visit it.
The pappus of the crown of minute, erect, blunt scales assists in dispersing the achenes by the wind.
Wherever it is found the requirements of Chicory are sand soil, as it is practically a sand-loving plant growing on sand soil or gravel, as well as on chalky soils or Oolite, where it may at least be native.
A fungus causing Chicory disease, Pleospora albicans, attacks it, as well as Puccinia hieracii.
Two beetles, Cassida sanguinolenta, Lacon murinus; a Thysanop terous insect, Thrips physapus; 3 moths, Coscinia striata, Feathered Brindle (Aporophyla australis), Marbled Clover (Heliothis dipsaceus); and a Homopterous insect, Orthocephalus saltator, are found upon it.
Photo L. R. J. Horn - Chicory (Cirhorium Inlybus, L).
Cichorium was the Latin name, and Intybus is Intubus or Endive.
This beautiful Composite is called Bunk, Chicory, Wild Cicory, Succory. Chicory is also called Barbe de capucin.
The plant served as a floral index. In Germany, a girl, "after waiting day after day for her betrothed, at last sank exhausted by the roadside and expired. Before long a star-like flower sprang up on the spot where the maiden's heart was broken and she breathed her last, and it was called the Watcher of the Road."
The plant is used for chicory for adulterating coffee. The root is roasted and crushed. The root is boiled and eaten, and the leaves also when blanched. It was formerly used in skin troubles and chronic disorders, and as a cooling medicine.
Essential Specific Characters:176. Cichorium Intybus, L. - Stem tall, rigid, striate, bristly, branched, lower leaves runcinate, upper clasping, flowerheads blue, numerous, axillary, subsessile.