Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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Not native to Florida
This perennial wildflower is native to southern Europe and Western Asia and has been found in Hillsborough and Escambia Counties of Florida. The range now includes nearly all of North America except for Alaska and the territories of north Canada.
The flowers appear in the upper leaf axils and mostly open in the morning. The blue strap-like petals are occasionally pink or nearly white with toothed tips. Disk flowers are absent. Each ligulate petal is a floscule, or floret, with both male and female parts. The ovary is at the base of the petal, the five blue anthers are fused, surrounding the pistil, and the stigma protrudes beyond the anthers, recurving after splitting into two parts. The fruits are achenes with a pappus of many minute scales. Leaves are alternate, 7.6 - 25.4 cm (3-10 in.) long, toothed or pinnately lobed, becoming reduced and more entire up the stem. The basal leaves are usually withered at flowering time.
The specific name intybus is derived from the Egyptian tybi, meaning January, the month in which the basal leaves are normally eaten, either raw in salads or cooked. Chicory contains vitamins A, B, C and K, the bioflavonoid rutin, plus proteins and minerals. The roots are often roasted and ground as a non-caffeine coffee additive or substitute.