Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asterales - Family: Asteraceae
In the UK Chicory is only common in southern England, although it is also found in parts of South Wales.
In the Mediterranean this plant is common, particularly in the west, but it becomes less evident as you travel further east. Chicory is grown there as crop, and the cultivated forms have larger flowers. Cultivated plants frequently become naturalised, adding to the difficulty of accurately identifying truly wild plants.
The pleasantly bitter-tasting young leaves of Chicory are used in salad dishes, but sometimes the shoots are forced and blanched. The roots, when dried, are powdered and then added to coffee - in the UK we became familiar, out of necessity, with this (much disliked) form of instant coffee during WWII, but in France chicory is still added to some instant coffees today.
Chicory is a member of the Daisy family (Asteraceae). The wildflower grows in fields, waysides and on waste ground and flowers from May to August. The bright blue flowers are very eye-catching, and perfect examples are very pretty.
Chicory is found in many European countries including Slovenia where we saw it frequently on roadsides in the Triglav Narodni National Park.
The specimens shown on this page were photographed in the Algarve in southern Portugal in May and in South Wales UK, in June.