Chicory, Cichorium intybus

Life Cycle

Biennial or usually perennial


Reproducing only by seed.


Stems erect, 30 - 150 cm high, usually with stiff spreading branches, hollow, rough-hairy especially on the lower part and sticky white juice usually present in stems. First-year plants are without a stem but forming a thick, vertical taproot and a large rosette of leaves.


Leaves of the basal rosette large and coarse, resembling Dandelion leaves but rough-hairy (Figure 4). Stem leaves are similar but smaller, alternate (1 per node) with the base of upper leaves clasping the stem and sticky white juice usually present.

Flowers and Fruit

Flower heads bright blue and very showy, stalkless or on short stalks in clusters along the branches, numerous; each head 3 - 4 cm across. Only ray (strap-shaped) florets (b) present; these blue, occasionally pinkish or whitish. The seeds are short, angled, top-shaped but lacking a tuft of hair at the tip. Flowers from July to late autumn.

Roots and Underground Structures

Thick, vertical taproot (A,a).


Chicory occurs throughout Ontario in waste places, fence lines, roadsides and occasionally in gardens.

Distinguishing Features

It is distinguished in rosette and non-flowering stages by its coarse, rough-hairy leaves superficially resembling Dandelion leaves, and when in flower, by its large, showy, blue flowers in stalkless clusters along the branches.

Figure #1.

Chicory. A. Base of sencond-year plant. B. Stem. C. Flowering branch.

Figure #2.


Figure #3.

Blue flower of chicory.

Figure #4.

Figure #5.

Small stem leaf.

Figure #6.

Flowering branch

Figure #7.

Chicory flowering in Southern Ontario, late July.