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This article is about the cultivated vegetable called chicon. For the Worldcons named Chicon, see Chicon (Worldcon). Common Chicory Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Asterids Order: Asterales Family: Asteraceae Tribe: Cichorieae Genus: Cichorium Species: C. intybus Binomial name Cichorium intybus L.

Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a bushy perennial herb with blue, lavender, or occasionally white flowers. It grows as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and in North America and Australia, where it has become naturalized. Common chicory is also known as blue sailors, succory, and coffeeweed. It is also called cornflower, although that name is more properly applied to Centaurea cyanus. The cultivated forms are grown for their leaves (var. foliosum), or for the roots (var. sativum), which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive. Common names for varieties of var. foliosum include endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, sugarloaf or witloof.

Chicory is also the common name in the US (and in France) for curly endive (Cichorium endivia). There is considerable confusion between Cichorium endivia and Cichorium intybus. [1][2]



When flowering, chicory has a tough, grooved, and more or less hairy stem, from 30 to 100 centimetres (10 to 40 in) tall.

The leaves are stalked, lanceolate and unlobed.

The flower heads are 2 to 4 centimetres (0.79 to 1.6 in) wide, and bright blue. There are two rows of involucral bracts - the inner are longer and erect, the outer are shorter and spreading. It flowers from July until October.

The achenes have no pappus (feathery hairs), but do have toothed scales on top.[3]

Leaf chicory

Chicory may be grown for its leaves, eaten raw as a salad. It is generally divided into three types of which there are many varieties[4]:

Radicchio usually has variegated red or red and green leaves. Some only refer to the white-veined red leaved type as radicchio. Also known as red endive and red chicory. It has a bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted. It can also be used to add color and zest to salads. Sugarloaf looks rather like cos lettuce, with tightly packed leaves. Witloof Belgian endive is also known as French endive, witlo(o)f in Dutch, witlo(o)f in the United States, chicory in the UK, as witlof in Australia, endive in France, and chicon in parts of northern France and in Wallonia. It has a small head of cream-coloured, bitter leaves. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up (etiolation). The plant has to be kept just below the soil surface as it grows, only showing the very tip of the leaves. It is often sold wrapped in blue paper to protect it from light and so preserve its pale colour and delicate flavour. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw. Slightly bitter, the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste. The harder inner part of the stem, at the bottom of the head, should be cut out before cooking to prevent bitterness. Belgium exports chicon/witloof to over 40 different countries. The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s in the Josaphat valley in Schaerbeek, Belgium [5]. Endive is cultivated for culinary use by cutting the leaves from the growing plant, then keeping the living stem and root in a dark place. A new bud develops but without sunlight it is white and lacks the bitterness of the sun-exposed foliage. Today France is the largest producer of endives. Flower of Cichorium intybus Belgian endive Belgian endive leaves unlobed and pointed note two rows of bracts Illustration

Although leaf chicory is often called ``endive``, true endive (Cichorium endivia) is a different species in the genus.

Root chicory

Root chicory (Cichorium intybus var. sativum) has been in cultivation in Europe as a coffee substitute. The roots are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive, especially in the Mediterranean region (where the plant is native), although its use as a coffee additive is also very popular in India, parts of Southeast Asia and the American South, particularly in New Orleans. It has also been popular as a coffee substitute in poorer economic areas, and has gained wider popularity during economic crises such as the Great Depression in the 1930s. Chicory, with sugar beet and rye was used as an ingredient of the East German Mischkaffee (mixed coffee), introduced during the ``coffee crisis`` of 1976-79.

Some beer brewers use roasted chicory to add flavor to their stouts.

Around 1970 it was found that the root contains up to 20% inulin, a polysaccharide similar to starch. Inulin is mainly found in the plant family Asteraceae as a storage carbohydrate (for example Jerusalem artichoke, dahlia etc.). It is used as a sweetener in the food industry (with a sweetening power approximately 90% less than sucrose)[6] and is sometimes added to yogurts as a prebiotic. Inulin can be converted to fructose and glucose through hydrolysis. Inulin is also gaining popularity as a source of soluble dietary fiber.

Chicory root extract is a dietary supplement or food additive produced by mixing dried, ground, chicory root with water, and removing the insoluble fraction by filtration and centrifugation. Other methods may be used to remove pigments and sugars. Fresh chicory root typically contains, by dry weight, 68% inulin, 14% sucrose, 5% cellulose, 6% protein, 4% ash, and 3% other compounds. Dried chicory root extract contains, by weight, approximately 98% inulin and 2% other compounds.[7] Fresh chicory root may contain between 13 and 23% inulin, by total weight.[8]

Chicory root extract is high in inulin, and used as a high-fiber dietary supplement.

Agents responsible for bitterness

The bitter substances are primarily the two sesquiterpene lactones Lactucin and Lactucopicrin. Other ingredients are Aesculetin, Aesculin, Cichoriin, Umbelliferone, Scopoletin and 6.7-Dihydrocoumarin and further sesquiterpene lactones and their glycosides. [9]

Medicinal use

Root chicory contains volatile oils similar to those found in plants in the related genus Tanacetum which includes Tansy, and is similarly effective at eliminating intestinal worms. All parts of the plant contain these volatile oils, with the majority of the toxic components concentrated in the plant's root. [10]

Chicory is well known for its toxicity to internal parasites. Studies indicate that ingestion of chicory by farm animals results in reduction of worm burdens,[11] [12] [13] which has prompted its widespread use as a forage supplement. Only a few major companies are active in research, development, and production of chicory varieties and selections, most in New Zealand.

Chicory (especially the flower) was used as a treatment in Germany, and is recorded in many books as an ancient German treatment for everyday ailments. It is variously used as a tonic and as a treatment for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems and cuts and bruises. (Howard M. 1987). Inulin, the dietary fiber found in Chicory finds application in diabetes and constipation.


According to traditional folklore, long-term use of chicory as a coffee substitute may damage human retinal tissue, with dimming of vision over time and other long term effects.[14] Modern scientific literature contains little or no evidence for or against this notion.


The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: ``Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae`` (``As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance``).[15] Lord Monboddo describes the plant in 1779[16] as the ``chicoree``, which the French cultivate as a pot herb. In the Napoleonic Era in France, chicory frequently appeared as either an adulterant in coffee or a coffee substitute; this practice also became common in the United States and the United Kingdom, e.g., in England during the Second World War and in Camp Coffee, a coffee and chicory essence which has been on sale since 1885.

In the United States chicory root has long been used as a substitute for coffee in prisons.[17]

Chicory is a common ingredient in typical Roman recipes, generally fried with garlic and red pepper to add its bitter and spicy flavor to meat or potato dishes. FAO reports that in 2005, China and the USA were the top producers of lettuce and chicory.[citation needed]

Chicory is also mentioned in certain sericulture (silk-growing) texts. It is said that the primary caretaker of the silkworms, the ``silkworm mother`` should not eat or even touch it.[citation needed]

The chicory flower is often seen as inspiration for the Romantic concept of the Blue Flower. It was also believed to be able to open locked doors, according to European folklore.[18]


^ ^ ^ Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne & Co. pp. 390–391. ISBN 0-7232-2419-6.  ^ ^ ^ ^ Kim, Meehye; Shin, HK (1996). ``The Water-Soluble Extract of Chicory Reduces Glucose uptake from the Perfused Jejunum in Rats``. J. Nutr. 126 (9): 2236–2242. PMID 8814212. Retrieved 2008-08-20.  ^ Wilson, Robert; S; Y (2004). ``Chicory Root Yield and Carbohydrate Composition is Influenced by Cultivar Selection, Planting, and Harvest Date``. Crop Sci. 44 (3): 748–752. Retrieved 2008-08-20.  ^ Harsh Pal Bais, GA Ravishankar (2001) Cichorium intybus L – cultivation, processing, utility, value addition and biotechnology, with an emphasis on current status and future prospects. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 81, 467-484 (online) ^ Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Gregory L. Tilford, ISBN 0-87842-359-1 ^ ``Individual administration of three tanniferous forage plants to lambs artificially infected with Haemonchus contortus and Cooperia curticei.``. Vet Parasitol. 146 (1-2): 123–34. 2007-05-15. doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2007.01.009. PMID 17336459 : 17336459.  ^ ``The use of chicory for parasite control in organic ewes and their lambs.``. Parasitology. 134 (Pt 2): 299–307. February 2007. doi:10.1017/S0031182006001363. PMID 17032469 : 17032469.  ^ ``The effect of chicory ( Cichorium intybus ) and sulla ( Hedysarum coronarium ) on larval development and mucosal cell responses of growing lambs challenged with Teladorsagia circumcincta.``. Parasitology. 132 (Pt 3): 419–26. March 2006. doi:10.1017/S0031182005009194. PMID 16332288 : 16332288.  ^ A Modern Herbal. New York: Dover Publications. 1931fs. ISBN 0486227987 & 0486227995.  ^ Horace, Odes 31, ver 15, ca 30 BC ^ Letter from Monboddo to John Hope, 29 April, 1779; reprinted by William Knight 1900 ISBN 1-85506-207-0 ^ (a) Delaney, John H. ``New York (State). Dept. of Efficiency and Economy Annual Report``. Albany New York, 1915, p. 673. Accessed via Google Books. (b) ``Prison Talk`` website; Kentucky section: ^ Howard, Michael. Traditional Folk Remedies (Century, 1987), p.120.

See also

Lettuce Olive Phytonutrient Polyphenol antioxidant This section looks like an image gallery. Wikipedia policy discourages galleries of random images of the article subject; please edit or remove the section accordingly, moving freely licensed images to Wikimedia Commons if not already hosted there.

Common chicory with lavender flowers

Cichorium intybus

Common chicory Cichorium intybus (white form)

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Cichorium intybus Wikiversity has bloom time data for Cichorium intybus on the Bloom Clock Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Chicory. Chicory Coffee - How Does it Taste? ITIS 36762 Chicory photo and description Dogfish Head's Chicory Stout History of Belgian Endive Species of chicory and endive Edibility of Chicory: Edible parts and identification of wild Chicory.