Flower Color: White showy flower heads; flowers solitary on tips of branches; heads with ligulate flowers often tinged with reddish-maroon or pink stripes on the underside of the petal; the fruit is known as a cypsela, this one with a pappus of stiff white or brownish hairs.
Flowering Season: March or April to May and June
Elevation: Between 3,000 to 4,500 feet (914-1,372 m)
Habitat Preferences: Shrubby slopes, open areas, open woods, deserts, common after fires; coastal sage, chaparral vegetation and oak woodlands in CA.
Recorded Range: California Chicory is native to the southwestern United States where it is found in AZ, CA, NV, UT and in small populations in OR. This species is also native to far northwest Mexico and northern Baja California. The largest populations are found throughout much of CA with decent populations in southern and northwestern AZ and in southeastern NV.
Genus Information: In North America there are 2 species and 2 accepted taxa overall for Rafinesquia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 6 accepted species names and a further 2 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah each have 2 species of Rafinesquia, New Mexico and Texas each have 1 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.
Comments: California Chicory is a showy spring bloomer found at higher elevations than its close and similar looking relative, New Mexico Plumeseed, Rafinesquia neomexicana. Also, California Chicory blooms a little later in the spring. Other differences involve the length of the white ligulateflorets which are slightly longer than the outer phyllaries as shown in the photo above.
A similar species is the more common Tackstem, Calycoseris wrightii which has larger white flowers and visible tack-shaped herbage from translucent oil glands under the flower head.
The common name Chicory is a result of its similarity to the flowers of Common Chicory, Cichorium intybus which is bright blue and found throughout Arizona and the United States. See photos here.
Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Rafinesquia californica, California Chicory bright white showy flowers, and their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar or food.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
Rafinesquia californica, California Chicory bright white showy flowers, and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, native bees and other insects in search of food and nectar.
The common name Chicory is a result of its similarity to the flowers of Common Chicory, Cichorium intybus which is bright blue and found throughout Arizona and the United States. Click here to view those flowers.
The species epithet “californica” from the State of California.