Dandelion and Chicory
Nature Bulletin No. 234-A June 11, 1966
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Seymour Simon, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation
DANDELION AND CHICORY
The rich golden yellow of the Dandelion in early spring, and the bright
heavenly blue of the Chicory during the hot dusty summer months,
clothe our roadsides and fields with color when it is most welcome.
Both plants are immigrant weeds from Europe, yet have considerable
value as food plants and are grown commercially, Thousands of pounds
of dandelion roots are imported annually into the U. S. to be used in
tonics and liver medicines.
Dandelion and chicory belong to the great family of composites -- the
world' s leading flower family with 20,000 or more species - exceeded
only by the grass family in their distribution over the earth. The
dandelions, for instance, are found almost everywhere except in the
Examine a dandelion blossom. Actually, it is not a single flower but a
compact head of perhaps 200 separate little tongue-shaped flowers.
Beneath them, like a cup, are a number of little overlapping green
leaves called "bracts". The lower bracts bend downward. The upper
ones, at night, close upward and inward and do not open until about
sunrise. When the flowers have been pollinated, the bracts close tightly
and remain so until the seeds -- one to each flower -- have ripened.
Then they open and you see the white "blowball" composed of fine stiff
filaments radiating in all directions from the center: each with a single
tiny seed at its base, and a little parachute of many fine white threads at
its tip. When you blow upon them, or in a wind, they float away and
sometimes travel many miles.
A dandelion plant has a long thick tough taproot which makes it
difficult to eradicate. The tender young leaves are used in salads or
cooked as greens; the blossoms are used for wine; and the roots are
sometimes used as a substitute for coffee, as well as in medicines.
Chicory, also called Blue Sailor, or Wild Succory, is similar to the
dandelion but has a stiff hairy branching stem with a rosette of leaves,
much like dandelion leaves, at the base. Scattered along the stem and
branches are the flowers, which are as big as silver dollars and usually
blue, although pink or white ones are sometimes seen. They open in
early morning and close each afternoon. Even if regularly mowed, this
stubborn plant will send out a blossom or two, on a very short stem, in
late autumn. Several varieties of chicory are cultivated extensively in
Europe as forage and hay for cattle, for salads and as potherbs, and for
the long fleshy roots. The boiled roots are eaten with butter or stored
for winter salads. Principally, however, the roots are roasted and ground
to be used as substitute for coffee or to adulterate it. They add color,
body and bitterness to coffee. In New Orleans along the waterfront, we
purchased a "beverage" containing 90 percent chicory. The name of the
place was the "Morning Call". It should have been "Morning Gall".
Operation GOLDEN EAGLE is a campaign to sell entrance permits to
Federal parks. These nation-wide permits cost $7.00 and will admit a
car and its passengers to more than 7,000 different federal government,
recreational facilities for a period of one year.
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Update: June 2012