Common chicory (Chicorium intybus) is a biannual plant. The first year it grows a rosette of leaves and the second year it grows the stems and flowers.
Common chicory is native to Europe and is also found in North America, Australia, Western Asia and North Africa. It is spreading globally.
This is a tall and deep rooted plant. It may grow up to 5 feet (1.5 meters).
The beautiful flowers are most often blue. In rare cases they may also come in white or pink. This plant blooms in midsummer.
The rosette leaves resemble that of a dandelion.
Some say common chicory resembles a windmill.
There are also leaves on the stems. The stem leaves may clasp partly around the stem or go all the around the stem.
The chicory flowers only bloom in the morning. They will close in the afternoon. The flowers also close before rain or any bad weather.
Common chicory was brought to America by Europe. It is often found along road sides.
Be aware that chicory found close to roads by be polluted by fumes from automobiles. It is never a good idea to use herbs that grow close to roads.
The leaves, flowers and roots are edible. The chicory does have a bitter taste, some love it and others prefer to pass.
The leaves can be boiled until tender and used as a vegetable. Because chicory has a bitter taste it is advised to not add any salt to the water when you boil the leaves.
The root can also be boiled and used as a vegetable.
Chicory Root Coffee
CommonChicory root is quite popular as a coffee substitute. Chicory does not contain caffeine.
Some prefer to mix chicory root with regular coffee grind.
As a coffee substitute chicory has a more bitter taste.
It is served in many coffee shops around the world. Ground chicory coffee is especially popular in South India.
When making chicory root coffee
at home the root is dry roasted before grounding.
Dandelion root is also an alternative coffee substitute.
Chicory Health Benefits
Chicory used as a medicinal herb goes way back to Ancient times. Chicory is a cleansing plant and diuretic.
It has cleansing effects on the gallbladder and kidneys.
Chicory root is also known to protect the liver.
Some people who suffer from rheumatism find chicory to be beneficial.
Chicory contains Vitamin B, C, K and P. Vitamin P is important as it helps the body absorb vitamin C.
It is also especially beneficial for people who suffer from bleeding gums.
Normal usage of chicory is considered safe. Exaggerated and extensive use of chicory may cause reduced eyesight. As always consult your doctor when in doubt.
Chicory for Good Luck
Chicory was known as a plant which would bring good luck. During the great Gold Rush in California in 1849 many gold diggers carried chicory in their pockets for good luck.
In Germany chicory is called Wegwarte meaning “watcher of the road”.
One story to explain the name is about an unfortunate and heartbroken young maiden.
She stood waiting for her loved one. He never showed up. She never gave up. Eventually the young maiden was found dead lying on a bunch of chicory flowers.