Many varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, chickens (blanched buds), or roots (var. sativum), which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive.
It is also grown as a forage crop for livestock. It lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and is now common in North America, China, and Australia, where it has become widely naturalized.
“Chicory” is also the common name in the United States for curly endive (Cichorium endivia); these two closely related species are often confused
Common chicory is also known as blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, bunk, coffeeweed, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor’s buttons, and wild endive. (Note: “Cornflower” is commonly applied to Centaurea cyanus.) Common names for varieties of var. foliosum include endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, Sugarloaf, and witloof (or witlof).
When flowering, chicory has a tough, grooved, and more or less hairy stem, from 30 to 100 cm (10 to 40 in) tall. The leaves are stalked, lanceolate and unloved. The flower heads are 2 to 4 cm (0.79 to 1.6 in) wide, and usually bright blue, rarely white or pink. Of the two rows of involucral bracts, the inner is longer and erect, the outer is shorter and spreading. It flowers from July until October. The achenes have no purpose (feathery hairs), but do have toothed scales on top.