Description from Flora of China
Herbs 40-110 cm tall, perennial, with a strong taproot. Stem usually solitary, erect; branches spreading-ascending, subglabrous. Basal leaves rosulate, obovate to oblanceolate, 15-34 × 2-4 cm, attenuate into a petiole-like basal portion, undivided to usually runcinately pinnatipartite, sparsely covered with long multicellular hairs, base attenuate, margin dentate; lateral lobes 3-6 pairs, triangular; terminal lobe distinctly larger than lateral ones, apex rounded to acute. Stem leaves similar to basal leaves but smaller and less divided, gradually reduced toward stem apex, base clasping, apex acute. Synflorescence of main axis and larger branches spiciform-paniculiform. Capitula axillary and terminal, solitary or in clusters of a few, sessile or on a several cm long, thick, and apically slightly inflated peduncle, with usually 15-20 florets. Involucre cylindric, 0.9-1.4 cm. Phyllaries abaxially sparsely with glandular or simple hairs, apex ± acute; outer phyllaries lanceolate, longest > 1/2 as long as to approaching inner ones in length, spreading-erect, margin ciliate; inner phyllaries linear-lanceolate. Florets blue or exceptionally pink or bluish white. Achene brown, subcylindric to obovoid, 2-3 mm, stout, rugulose, apex truncate. Pappus (0.1-)0.2-0.3 mm. Fl. May-Oct. 2n = 18.
Escaped as a ruderal weed in many parts of the world, this species was formerly cultivated as a medicinal plant but more recently is grown as an ornamental and coffee substitute.
A second species, Cichorium pumilum Jacquin (as C. glandulosum Boissier & A. Huet) was reported for Xinjiang (Y. P. Gu & Y. S. Chen, Fl. Tsinling. 1(5): 391. 1985; C. H. An, Fl. Xinjiang. 5: 386. 1999). The presence of this Mediterranean-SW Asian species is highly unlikely, and, as also concluded by Tzvelev (Rast. Tsentral. Azii 14b: 14. 2008), the description ("pappus scales ca. 0.1 mm") refers to populations within the range of variation of C. intybus (including C. glaucum Hoffmannsegg & Link; see also A. M. Kiers, Gorteria, Suppl. 5. 2000).
By rivers, wastelands along seashores, slopes, by ditches; low elevations. ?Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, ?Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Taiwan, Xinjiang [N Africa, C and SW Asia, Europe].