The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
The genus Cichorium Linnaeus and
Cichorium intybus Linnaeus
The genus Cichorium Linnaeus
The genus Cichorium is
economically important because of two widely cultivated
Cichorium intybus (witloof, red and root chicory) and
Cichorium endivia (endive and curly endive).
The plants belonging to the genus
are usually perennial,
growing form a taproot.
They usually have a single, branched, erect stem.
Their leaves are usually sessile.
Their corollas are usually blue, but
sometimes pink or white. The seeds have a persistent
There are 6 species in the genera,
the two widely cultivated species cited above, and four wild species.
Of these species, only one is found in North America and in Québec, as an
Cichorium intybus, picture at right, that is
native to Europe, North Africa and Asia.
Cichorium intybus has also been introduced in South America, Africa
and the Pacific Old World. Naturalized
in North America, where it has become a roadside weed.
As for Cichorium endivia, it may sometimes be found as an
from gardens or agricultural plantings. It differs from
Cichorium intybus in having purple corollas.
The genus belongs to the
Cichorium intybus Linnaeus
Cichorium intybus is a bushy herb with blue or lavender flowers.
It is a diploid
perennial or biennial plant,
sometimes flowering first year. It grows
from a massive taproot
It is a self-incompatible species.
Its number of chromosomes (2n)
In classical Greek:
are various ways of naming the chicory.
The word is referred to a few times by Theophrastus, (370 - 285 BC),
the successor of Aristotle in the Peripatetic school of Athens, in his
Enquiry into Plants. It is also referred to by
Nicandros, a priest from Colophon. that lived around 275 B.C.; he composed
didactic poems, notably the Theriaca describing dangerous reptiles,
insects and fishes and the plants that could be used as antidote.
It is cited by the Greek dramatist Aristophanes (ca. 456 BC - ca. 386 BC) in
one of the fragments of its non-surviving plays.
It is also cited by Pedanius Dioscorides, the Greek physician, pharmacologist
and botanist from Anazarbus (Cilicia, Asia Minor) who practised in ancient Rome
during the time of Nero. He wrote one of the most influential herbal books in
history, a book that remained in use until the Renaissance.
As for the epithet, in Latin, in means
in, during and Tybi is the Greek name of the month of
Proyet (or Peret) in the ancient Egyptian calendar; this was the
first month of Winter. So intybus would refer to the month when
Cichorium intybus was customarily eaten in Egypt or the month when the
plant started growing in Greece ?
Cichorium intybus has several common names because of its many uses,
Some of the more frequently used vernacular
names are: Blue Sailors, Succory, French Endive, Belgium endive, Chicory,
Coffee Chicory, Common Chicory, Chicon, Italian Dandelion and
The vernacular French name is usally Chicorée sauvage and,
much less often, Chicorée intybe.
Cichorium intybus has also been known as:
- Cichorium intybus L. var. foliosum Hegi
- Cichorium intybus L. var. sativum (Bisch.) Janch.
- Cichorium intybus L. f. albiflorum Neuman
- Cichorium intybus L. f. roseum Neuman
Cichorium intybus is one of the most easily recognizable plant
because of its attractive big blue capitula
with blue stigmas,
and blue styles,
and with its roadside habitat.
(The form album has white corollas
but is quite rare, and the the form roseum has rose-colored corollas
but is even rarer).
- Up to 1.5 meter tall.
- branching irregularly, erect,
with a milky sap.
- The basal ones longer and
larger than the cauline.
- The basal blades from 5 to
about 30 cm long and from 1 to about 10 cm wide,
lyrate pinnatifid, resembling those
of the genus Taraxacum (Dandelion).
- The cauline ones alternate,
- In an inflorescence with typically
1 to 3 axillary flower heads in
the upper portion of the stems, and with some flower heads terminal.
- With phyllaries in two rows, the
lower flower heads with reduced phyllaries, the upper flower heads with
no phyllaries or reduced and scalelike phyllaries.
- The outer phyllaries 5 to 6 mm long and around 2 mm wide, the
inner phyllaries up to 1 cm long, and 2 mm broad.
- Without disk florets.
- With blue to lilac ray florets,
with 5 teeth at the ligule apex,
up to 2 cm long and 6 mm wide.
- With blue anthers.
- With blue style and
- Blooming from the end of June to September in my area,
25 km north of Montréal.
- A cypsela
measuring between 0.5 and 0.8 mm.
- With a tiny pappus of minute fringed bristle-like scales
less than 2 mm long.
Cichorium intybus with its deep taproot enabling it to grow in hard
packed, rocky ground, is found along roadsides and railroads, in disturbed
sites, on waste ground.
Cichorium intybus is found in Northern Africa (Algeria and Tunisia),
in temperate and tropical Asia, and in Europe. It is widely naturalized
elsewhere. The map shows the Canadian provinces (all of them) and USA states
(most of them) where the plant can be found.
During the hot summer months the flowers of Cichorium intybus only stay
open a short time in the morning, later on cloudy days.
As the days cool the flowers stay open nearly all day.
The plant has been cultivated since ancient times for its leaves, is used for
salads. It is usually blanched by covering with litter to make it less bitter;
whole or shredded leaves are served with oil and vinegar as salads; blanched
hearts serve as a vegetable. Established in Europe during, the Napoleanic
blockade, it is cultivated for its roots used as a coffee substitute.
When blended with ground coffee, they enhance the flavor and aroma of the brew.
Cichorium intybus contains four
- Cultivars of the Root Chicory Group are cultivated for their
large roots, which were formerly used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute
or additive. Today, they are mainly cultivated for the production of
inulin (the major reserve
carbohydrate in many Asteraceae, with a sweetening power 30% higher than
that of sucrose), as a sugar enhancer called maltol
and for other food and non-food applications.
- Cultivars of the Witloof Group containing witloof or
Brussels chicories, a common vegetable in Belgium, France, and The
Netherlands, which are used for producing witloof or
French endive under artificial conditions.
- Cultivars of the Pain de Sucre Group comprising the green-leaved
cultivars which are mainly cultivated in northwestern Europe. Contrary to
what their name suggests, the cultivars have a bitter taste.
- Cultivars of the The Radicchio Group, originating from Northern
Italy, consisting of leaf chicories that are essentially bred for their
blond, red, or variegated leaves that are used as fresh or cooked food.
Cichorium intybus is a staple in Cajun-style red-eye gravy
a thin sauce often seen in the cuisine of the Southern United States.
The root is said to be an ideal food for diabetics because of its inulin
content. The plant has a long history of herbal use and is especially of great
value for its tonic affect upon the liver and digestive tract but is little
used in modern herbalism, though it is often used as part of the diet.
The root and the leaves are appetizer,
A decoction of the root has proved to be of benefit in the treatment of
jaundice, liver enlargement,
The milky sap can cause allergic dermatitis.
The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following:
Minolta DiMAGE 7,
Canon PowerShot A530,
Canon Xt Rebel, usually with the EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM objective,
Fujifilm A 610 and
EPSON Perfection 1650 (scanner).
The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken,
i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of
January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.
The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter which I use
to identify the system used to take the picture.
Click on the thumbnails to get larger view.
The original photos are usually in TIFF format,
the photos shown are generally in JPEG format,
often of dimensions one half (surface one quarter)
for loading time reduction.
Plants in summer and winter
The leaves were scanned at 300 dpi,
and the dimensions of the resulting picture divided by 2 (area divided by 4);
this allows to measure the dimensions of the leaves.