By Phran Novelli

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There it was in a patch of weedy growth (among a mix of grasses tangled with clover, plantain and other broad-leafed invaders which most good lawn care experts take pains to get rid of) a stunningly beautiful blue bloom. The kind of intense true blue that’s hard to find among flowers, and it turns out to be another alien weed, called Chicory.

Originally from Europe, Chicory is a low-grower with woody branches in a family of plants that includes leafy vegetables like the mild Endive as well as many intensely flavored leafy salad greens. Chicory’s healing powers have been used for thousands of years in cures for people and as medicinal forage for farm animals.

Chicory root has found its way into food and drink down through the years too – including as a caffeine-free substitute for, or often combined with, coffee as many people who’ve travelled to New Orleans have enjoyed.

So if you’re out on a walk and spy a bright blue flower lying low in a patch of lawn, it might just be a bit of Chicory.

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