The leaves have a bitter taste, and are used as salad greens. The roots can be eaten boiled, or can be roasted and ground to produce a flavoring for coffee. Some roots are also used for livestock feed. As a wildflower, it is also known as "ragged blue sailor." It has a preference for well drained, gravelly soil, and is a common roadside wildflower from Tennessee northward throughout eastern USA blooming from July until frost.