Weed of the Month: Chicory


Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Common name: Chicory
Scientific name: Cichorium intybus L.

Life Cycle: Perennial
Origin: Mediterranean region
Poisonous: None reported

Chicory is widespread across North America and is a commonly occurring plant in all types of pastures and rough turfs. This erect, branched simple perennial weed grows 2 to 4 feet in height at maturity and has milky sap. Chicory flowers have distinctive bright blue petals and bloom from mid-June through October. Chicory develops from a basal rosette (similar to dandelion), has a deep, fleshy taproot, and reproduces from buds on the root. Chicory is primarily spread by seeds. It is not as common as many weeds in horse pastures but occurs in more abundance in unmowed pastures.

Chicory is relatively easy to control with several herbicides. Mowing in pastures might reduce flower formation but is generally ineffective in killing the plant. Hoeing or digging the tap root is successful and should be done before the seed heads are formed. Many people consider chicory to be less “weedy” and want it to grow in pastures, while others desire it to be removed. Consult your local Cooperative Extension Service personnel for herbicidal control in your area.

William W. Witt, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of plant and soil sciences at the University of Kentucky, provided this information.

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