Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a member of the sunflower family. The plant is native to Europe, but now also grows in North America and Australia.
Chicory root can be brewed as a tea and often used as a coffee substitute or coffee and chicory blend. The roasted root smells like coffee, but chicory has no caffeine. Some beer brewers use roasted chicory to add flavor to stouts and ales.
The plant leaves can be used like salad or cooked like spinach. Chicory grown commercially is cultivated and not as bitter as wild chicory (called common chicory). But if you gather the smaller leaves for salad and cook the greens in a couple of batches of water, fresh chicory will taste better.
Chicory is also valuable to insect and animal life.
I took all the photographs of chicory for this article. The photos were taken in east Tennessee, but I've seen chicory in other U.S. states, too. ~~ Burntchestnut (Angela Johnson)