It has a color that pulls me in, bright medium blue, with a smidgeon of purple thrown in. It tugs at my heartstrings. Chicory, Cichorium intybus, is native to Europe but has become naturalized in many parts of North America, and is part of the roadside landscape here in central Virginia.
Chicory is a tough plant, sending its deep taproot into hard packed soil where other plants might have a difficult time. It blooms from June into October, producing just a few buds at a time on each plant. Each bud blooms for just one day.
The leaves are edible and are most tasty in early summer and in the autumn. The leaves in mid-summer tend to be bitter. The roots, roasted and ground, are used for an addition to coffee, or as a coffee substitute. Also, in beer brewing, the ground and roasted roots are occasionally added in the making of stouts and Belgian-style ales.
Its pollen and nectar entices insects, including bees, flies and butterflies. Chicory seeds, leaves and stems invite small mammals to come by for a meal or snack. And for those who love a bouquet of wildflowers, keep in mind that these flowers only last a day, and those stems are mighty rugged, requiring more than just a quick snap of the shoot.
Rather than taking some home, I will depend on my photographs and thoughts of that gorgeous purply-blue.