Blue & Purple 'Dandelions'

Blue Cupidone Salsify Chicory Blue Cupidone

What are they?

The plants on this page are members of the dandelion family (Asteraceae) and this can be readily told by the flowerheads, that are made up of many small florets, crowded together to form a single head. These plants closely resemble dandelions and their allies in a number of ways, involving not only the flowerheads, but the leaves too, while most of them also have the milky sap typical of the dandelion group. However, the most obvious difference is the flower colour, which is blue or purple.

Where are they found?

These are mostly plants of grassy roadsides and waste places.


But for the flowers, these species are generally quiet different to each and should be easily told apart by the appearance of their leaves and by the phyllaries - the green, outer bracts on the compound flowerhead.

Chicory      Cichorium intybus

Originally introduced from Europe, perhaps in the Middle Ages, but now well established in rough, grassy places and roadsides. Flowers July to September. Plants to 100cm tall with a rosette of basal leaves that resemble those of some of the hawk's-beards. The flowerheads usually appear a few at a time on upper side branches of the main stem. The branches gradually elongate as later flowers open. Flowerheads are typically bright, pale blue, but may rarely be white or pink.

Chicory Chicory Chicory Chicory
Basal leaves
Stem leaf
Chicory Chicory Chicory

Common Blue Sow-thistle      Cicerbita macrophylla

Introduced as a garden plant from Eastern Europe with just a handful of records of plants occurring on roadsides as garden escapes. Flowers July to August. Greatly resembles the sow-thistles in leaf and in the blue-green look of the plant. Leaves clasp the stem with rounded lobes at their bases.

Common Blue Sow-thistle Common Blue Sow-thistle Common Blue Sow-thistle

Blue Cupidone      Catananche caerulea

Introduced from the Mediterranean region and often grown for use in flower arrangements, on account of its papery, long-lasting and attractive flower bracts. Occasionally found as a garden stray on roadsides and uncultivated places. Flowers July to August. A slender plant with the flowerheads carried on long stems, well above the leaves. The leaves are long and slender, some having just one or two, uneven-sized side lobes.

Blue Cupidone Blue Cupidone Blue Cupidone Blue Cupidone

Salsify      Tragopogon porrifolius

Introduced from Europe, both as a garden ornamental and as a root vegetable. Escapes from cultivation show up from time to time and some long-lasting populations are established in north-east Suffolk and around Stalham, Norfolk. Flowers May to July. A strong-growing plant, its leaves rather grass-like but with a silver stripe down the centre and closely resembling the leaves of its close relative, Goat's-beard. The flowerheads are lilac-purple or pinkish-mauve and open only in the morning on sunny days.

Salsify Salsify Salsify Salsify