Chicory Wildflower ~ Blossom Stages

Jan  Tribe

Farr West, United States

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The Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) from bud to full bloom to blooms that have died to the achenes stage. (An achene is a type of simple dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants that reseed themselves)

This flower was found in the morning in a rocky hillside just over the border of Wasatch National Forest, Utah, USA
(My in-law’s home is on the border of the forest. So it was a short hike up the hillside beyond their home)

Cichorium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. The species are commonly known as chicory.

To see and appreciate the beauty of common chicory you will have to get up early, because by late afternoon the flowers close up for the rest of the day!

This plant is not a native. It came to North America from Europe with Old World colonists- it is actually native to the Mediterranean region. Its history in this area goes back a long way. As a matter of fact, this plant is one of the earliest mentioned in classical age literature. It was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians for medicinal uses, and eaten in the Greco-Roman world as a vegetable (the root) or in salads (the leaves). Common chicory has an ancient past, having long been used as a food source, medicinal herb, and forage plant by many cultures around the world–especially in Europe. It was introduced to the United States for the same purposes during colonial times, but it soon escaped into the wild. Today it still grows as a wild perennial in pastures and along roadsides,

It is a prolific summer plant, though it will linger on into fall. There are a limited amount of flowers growing at any one time upon this plant. This is because the blooms are extremely short-lived, showing their glorious blue petals for only a day or so. This is the culmination of 2 years of growing- the first year, the plant doesn’t flower, the second year it does. It then produces seeds, and dies with the frosts of approaching winter.

This plant is usually 1½–3’ high, branching occasionally. The stems are variously colored, ranging from green to reddish brown. The lower stems can be quite hairy, while the upper stems are nearly hairless. The alternate leaves are up to 8" long and 2" across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. They are lanceolate, elliptic, or oblanceolate in overall shape, and either pinnatifid or dentate; the upper leaves have margins that are more smooth (entire). Each leaf narrows gradually to a petiole-like base, where it is either sessile or clasps the stem. There are usually conspicuous hairs along the central vein of the lower leaf surface.

The upper stems terminate in long group or cluster of flowers that are either spike-like, or they are open diversely branching flower clusters widely spaced along the flowering stalks, there are sessile or nearly sessile flowerheads and short triangular bracts. These flowerheads are about 1-1½" across and they have 10-20 ray florets. The petaloid rays of these florets are light blue, fading to white; there are 5 tiny teeth at the tip of each petaloid ray. Toward the center of each flowerhead, there are several light blue stamens with blue anthers. The flowerheads bloom during the morning, and close-up later in the day, unless the skies are cloudy. The blooming period can occur from early summer to early fall, depending on the weather and the timing of disturbances. The achenes (An achene is a type of simple dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants) are oblongoid and 5-ribbed; there is a pair of small scales at the apex of each achene. The root system consists of a stout taproot. Common Chicory spreads by reseeding itself.

Information from : Seasons Flow Blog http://seasonsflow.wordpress.com
and http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info ( The Utah wildflowers websites didn’t contain much information)

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