Remark The words or terms in red (actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a glossary.

The genus Cichorium Linnaeus and Cichorium intybus Linnaeus

The genus Cichorium Linnaeus

jun_28_14.gthmb can't be loaded. The genus Cichorium is economically important because of two widely cultivated species, 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 pappus.

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 introduced species, 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 escape from gardens or agricultural plantings. It differs from Cichorium intybus in having purple corollas.

The genus belongs to the Asteraceae family.

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) is 18.


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.

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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 ?

Common names

Cichorium intybus has several common names because of its many uses, forms and varieties. 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 Coffeeweed.

The vernacular French name is usally Chicorée sauvage and, much less often, Chicorée intybe.


Cichorium intybus has also been known as:


Cichorium intybus is one of the most easily recognizable plant because of its attractive big blue capitula with blue stigmas, blue anthers 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).




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Flower heads



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. map_na.jpg can't be loaded.


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 cultivar groups:

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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, cholagogue, depurative, digestive, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, laxative and tonic. A decoction of the root has proved to be of benefit in the treatment of jaundice, liver enlargement, gout and rheumatism. 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

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Flower heads

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