It’s almost the end of summer, and the wildflowers that have dotted the landscape here for the past couple of months are slowly but surely wilting away. For a few months each year, they have their glory, bathing in the sunshine and warm weather.
Over the next couple of posts, I would like to share some of the wildflowers that made an impression on me and prompted me to find out more about them.
Although not the most common flowers along the road, there was a large field of chicory flowers, together with wild carrots not far from our place. What attracted me to them initially is their bright blue-lavender color and the delicate-looking petals, very pretty to behold. Chicory flowers sometimes come in pink or white, but I think the most beautiful ones are blue.
An herbaceous plant in the dandelion family, the chicory flower is native to Europe and are found mostly in temperate climates. For centuries in Europe, wild chicory symbolized the ability to ward off evil, as well as perseverance in martyrdom.
The chicory plant was brought to the United States in the late 19th century, notable from France into New Orleans, to be cultivated as a substitute for coffee. The roots of the plant are grounded, roasted and mixed into coffee to add more color and bitterness or drank on its own. Chicory coffee tastes like the regular coffee, though it is rather woody and nutty.
This plant is also grown for food for livestock such as cattle.
In the wild, each chicory flower only blooms for a day and may only remain open for a short period of time in the morning during hot weather. It is a flower that does not like the heat. However, they could stay open for almost the entire day on cooler days. A typical chicory plant can grow from 30 to 150 cm tall, or 1 to 5 feet. Its usually a perennial.
The chicory flowers can be eaten, most commonly in salads. Apart from being ground into coffee, its roots also has some medicinal benefits such as for upset stomach, loss of appetite and liver disorders. However, there are many subspecies of the chicory flowers, and each has different medicinal purpose.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2020. Chicory | Definition, Uses, Cultivation, & Facts. Available at https://www.britannica.com/plant/chicory [Accessed 27 August 2020].
Chicory Coffee: A Healthy Alternative to Coffee?. 2018. Healthline.
Available at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chicory-coffe e [Accessed 27 August 2020].
What is Chicory and what Does it Have to Do with Coffee?. 2019. MyRecipes.
Available at https://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/cooking-questions /what-is-chicory [Accessed 28 August 2020].
Mahr, Susan 2012. Chicory, Cichorium Intybus. Master Gardener Program.
Available at https://wimastergardener.org/article/chicory-cicho rium-intybus/ [Accessed 28 August 2020].