18" x 22"
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North America, escaped to Europe
One of my pleasures in painting is being able to draw attention to flora that are under appreciated. Chicory is a prime example. It’s a rough looking plant. The stems are wiry, stiff and contain few leaves. It is also a tough plant. I have seen chicory growing from cracks in cement and on railroad tracks. I even saw one plant growing out of the crack between a telephone pole and the cement sidewalk! If you want one more reason why it is not a popular home garden plant, the flowers close at noon.
But the flowers are a good reason to get out in the garden early. They are the opposite of the rest of the plant - soft, delicate, and a rare shade of sky blue. When I paint a flower I often notice features that have escaped me before. For example, chicory flower petals are square at the tips with a ragged end. And the flowers are stalk less. They sit on little knobby bumps on the stem, making each stalk seem like a stick studded with blue pinwheels.
I have been asked whether this is the same chicory that is used to make coffee. Yes, it has a long taproot that is widely used to make a coffee substitute.
Chicory, (Cichorium intybus), grows on wastelands almost everywhere in North America but it originally comes from Europe. As a rule I like to paint plants in their natural habitat, but the botanists have a useful word for plants that have been particularly successful in colonizing a new land. They call them “naturalized”. I guess I can accept that.