(aka Cichorium intybus, Succory, Blue Sailors, Blue Daisy, Coffee Weed, Bunk)
This pretty blue flower carpets much of the untended areas in Centreville. It caught my eye when I noticed that the flowers were open in the morning, but closed upon my return home from work.
Chicory is native to Europe, but was introduced to the United States. Cultivated varieties include Radicchio and Belgian Endive. In its wild form, the roots can be roasted, ground and as used as an additive to or substitute for coffee. This is particularly popular in the south, where I have had it in my morning cup of joe. It appears, according to the Wikipedia article on Chicory, that the plant is useful in combating intestinal parasites. Still, I think I'll visit my doctor first.
Bobby Rightmyer of the Lexington Gardening Examiner writes:
To make a caffeine-free coffee-like beverage from the roots - scrub, chop, and toast them in a 350ºF oven 1 hour, or until dark brown, brittle, and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Grind to the size of coffee in a spice grinder or blender, and use like regular coffee—1½ tsp per cup of water.
She recommends harvesting the roots in the fall, so I will give it a shot, then.
- Weeds of the Northeast by Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. DiTomaso