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Cichorium intybus - L.

Common Name Chicory, Radicchio, Succory, Witloof
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards Excessive and continued use may impair function of the retina[268]. Slight potential for sensitization [301]
Habitats Grassy meadows and arable land, especially on chalk[5, 13].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Cichorium intybus Chicory, Radicchio, Succory, Witloof

Cichorium intybus Chicory, Radicchio, Succory, Witloof


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Bloom Color: Blue. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cichorium intybus is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cichorium balearicum, Cichorium cicorea, Cichorium commune, Cichorium perenne.

Plant Habitats

 Lawn; Meadow; Cultivated Beds; South Wall. By. West Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root
Edible Uses: Coffee

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 4, 5, 9, 27, 33, 171]. The leaves are rather bitter, especially when the plants are flowering[4]. The leaves are often blanched by excluding light, either by removing all the leaves and then earthing up the new growth, or by covering the plant with a bucket or something similar. Whilst this greatly reduces any bitterness, there is also a corresponding loss of vitamins and minerals[K]. The blanched leaves are often used in winter salads (they are known as chicons) and are also cooked[132, 200]. The unblanched leaves are much less bitter in winter and make an excellent addition to salads at this time of year[K]. A nutritional analysis of the leaves is available[218]. Flowers - raw[52]. An attractive addition to the salad bowl[183], but rather bitter[K]. Root - cooked like parsnip[5, 7, 9, 13, 21, 27, 46]. The boiled young roots form a very palatable vegetable[4]. The root is said to be an ideal food for diabetics because of its inulin content[9]. Inulin is a starch that cannot be digested by humans, it tends to pass straight through the digestive system and is therefore unlikely to be of use to a diabetic[K]. However, the inulin can be used to make a sweetener that is suitable for diabetics to use[K]. Chicory-root is free of harmful ingredients, and is essentially a concentrated combination of three sugars (pentose, levulose and dextrose) along with taraxarcine (the bitter principle of dandelion)[269]. It is especially important as source of levulose[269]. Roots are used in seasoning soups, sauces and gravies, and to impart a rich deep colour[269]. The roasted root is used as a caffeine-free coffee adulterant or substitute[2, 4, 5, 7, 13, 21, 27, 46]. Young roots have a slightly bitter caramel flavour when roasted, roots over 2 years old are much more bitter[238].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 290 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 24.6g; Fat: 2.9g; Carbohydrate: 59.4g; Fibre: 13g; Ash: 13g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 1145mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 24.6mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 23mg; Thiamine (B1): 1.01mg; Riboflavin (B2): 1.74mg; Niacin: 5.8mg; B6: 0mg; C: 159mg;
  • Reference: [ ]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Appetizer  Bach  Cardiac  Cholagogue  Depurative  Digestive  Diuretic  Hypoglycaemic  
Laxative  Tonic  Warts

Chicory has a long history of herbal use and is especially of great value for its tonic affect upon the liver and digestive tract[254]. It 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[4, 7, 9, 13, 21, 46, 222]. The roots are more active medicinally[222]. A decoction of the root has proved to be of benefit in the treatment of jaundice, liver enlargement, gout and rheumatism[4]. A decoction of the freshly harvested plant is used for treating gravel[4]. The root can be used fresh or dried, it is best harvested in the autumn[9]. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can also be dried for later use[9]. The root extracts have experimentally produced a slower and weaker heart rate (pulse)[222]. The plant merits research for use in heart irregularities[222]. The plant is used in Bach flower remedies - the keywords for prescribing it are 'Possessiveness', 'Self-love' and 'Self-pity'[209]. The latex in the stems is applied to warts in order to destroy them[218]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Cichorium intybus for loss of appetite, dyspepsia (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Biomass  Compost

The roots have the potential to be used for the production of biomass for industrial use[132]. They are rich in the starch 'inulin' which can easily be converted to alcohol[269]. A blue dye has been obtained from the leaves[4]. The flowers are an alternative ingredient of 'QR' herbal compost activator[32]. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost[K]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch. Nectary, Insect shelter.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a sunny position in any moderately fertile well-drained moisture retentive soil[1, 14, 52]. Prefers a pH 5.5 to 7[200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.3. Chicory grows on any type of soil but, when cultivated, grows best on mellow, deeply tilled, fertile soil or sandy loam[269].. A cool weather crop, it tolerates only moderate summer temperatures and requires well-distributed rainfall, with good drainage, or some irrigation in drier areas[269]. Chicory roots deeply in relatively short time; soil too wet for beans and small grains is not suitable[269]. To insure proper root-growth, apply lime or marl to acid soil to neutralize acidity[269]. Chicory is reported to tolerate a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.3, an annual rainfall of 30 to 400 cm and an annual mean biotemperature of 6° to 27°C[269]. Chicory is an excellent winter salad. It is often cultivated, especially in Europe, for its edible leaves and for its roots which are used to make a coffee substitute. There are many named varieties[46, 132, 183] and, by careful selection of cultivars and sowing times, fresh leaves can be obtained all year round. There are three main types of chicory grown for their leaves, there are many cultivars of each form:- A bitter-tasting loose-leafed form is grown as a green winter vegetable, especially in southern Italy. A narrow-leafed, witloof or Belgian form has a compact elongate head (chicon) which is blanched for use in salads or cooked dishes. A broad-leaved (usually red) form produces cabbage-like hearts, these are generally less bitter than the other forms and are eaten raw or cooked. These forms are often used as a winter salad crop[K]. Although a perennial, chicory is usually cultivated as an annual crop, especially when being grown as a winter salad. The winter salad cultivars are usually sown in early summer to make sure that they do not flower in their first year of growth. By late autumn they have formed an overwintering rosette of leaves rather like a cabbage. These leaves can be harvested as required during the winter and the plants will then usually make some new growth (as long as the winter is not too cold) that can be harvested in late winter or early spring. The plants run to flower in the following summer and fail to make an overwintering rosette of leaves for that winter[K]. Chicory can be grown successfully in a meadow or even in a lawn so long as the grass is not cut too short nor too often[K]. It often self-sows freely when well-sited, especially if it is growing in a dry alkaline soil[238]. A good bee plant[24, 108]. A very ornamental plant[1]. The flowers open in the early morning (about 6 - 7 o'clock in Britain) and close around midday[4]. Special Features: Edible, Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is a tap root similar to a carrot going directly down [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow the wild form or cultivars being grown for their roots in May or June in situ. Cultivars being grown for their edible leaves can be sown in April for a summer crop or in June/July for a winter crop. Sow them in situ or in pots and then plant them out as soon as they are large enough.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Blue daisy, blue dandelion, blue sailors, blue weed, bunk, coffeeweed, cornflower, hendibeh, horseweed, ragged sailors, succory, wild bachelor's buttons, wild endive. (Note: "Cornflower" is commonly applied to Centaurea cyanus.) Common names for varieties of var. foliosum include endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, sugarloaf, and witloof, witlof.

Afghanistan, Africa, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Asia, Australia, Austria, Azores, Balkans, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Canary Islands, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, East Africa, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hawaii, Holland, Hungary, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mediterranean, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Africa, North America, Norway, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Spain, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tasmania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA, West Africa, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. An invasive species in several states in the USA.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cichorium endiviaEndiveBiennial1.0 -  LMHNM32 
Cichorium pumilumDwarf ChicoryAnnual0.4 6-10 FLMHNDM220
Cichorium spinosum Biennial/Perennial0.2 6-9  LMHNM20 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

Richard Clark   Fri Dec 29 15:26:19 2000

I have a perennial chickory that is amazingly drought tolerant in SW Western Australia. I am surprized in the Propagation section, root division is not mentioned.

David Nicholls   Tue Apr 24 11:39:56 2001

I was surprised to read in Potter's new cyclopaedia of botanical drugs and preperations by R.C. Wren that roasted Chicory root contains harman, which is also in passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) but that it doesn't seem to be used in the same way.

I've since tried some and am almost certain it has basicly the same effect of calming the nerves and increasing physical strength or activity and stamina with no more intxication than a coffee (but quite different of course).

(The idea that Passionflower increases physical activity is mine as far as I know based on personal experience but there does seem to be confusion in the literature as to whether harmin could be expected to be a stimulant or a sedative(Tyler's Honest Herbal). I think it may be both, a cerebral sedative and physical stimulant (I think coffee which is usually called a stimulant is a physial sedative, just look at a cafe or office, perhaps sedating one allows blood for the other or something??

The idea that chickory can be used like passionflower is also "mine" as far as I know so I'd be extremely intersted to hear from any one who has tried it with this in mind, but advise opportunists against trying to make money out of the idea. It could just be the placebo effect, but it has me fooled if so.

I think stronger chemicals related to harman are MAO inhibitors so it is possible mixing it with large amounts of things incompatable with MAo inhibitors could possilby be unsafe (I Know little about the complete list of such things, I think aged cheese is one)and the standard disclaimer Icant recommend this as safe or effective.

it grows wild as a weed here in New Zealand but is not concidered a noxious weed.

Alf Beharie   Sun Sep 17 2006

I have just found some Chicory plants growing wild not far from where I live and was all set to harvest them until the moment when I saw from your site that the known hazards were: Excessive and continued use may impair function of the retina...And that has put me off wanting to eat Chicory period! If this a cummulative effect then there must be lots of half-blind Chicory eaters and drinkers out there! Thanks

Ken Fern   Mon Sep 18 2006

If you eat chicory as your main salad leaf, and are a very big eater of salads, the only effects chicory would have on you would be beneficial. You really would have to eat an extraordinary quantity of the leaves before they would do you anything other than good.

Rayna   Mon Mar 26 2007

Please note that people that are severely allergic to latex may have hazardous & potentially fatal allergic reactions to foods that contain this product. I had a cookie that contained chicory root fiber, which resulted in extreme allergic reaction. We've traced the cause back to this ingredient. Please consider including "possible allergic reactions to people with latex sensitivities" in your "Known Hazards" section.

   Thu May 3 2007

Chicory capsule is said to be good for liver and kidneys.

laura   Sun Mar 1 2009

Hello, I live in Atlanta, GA; USA. I love Chicory plant. I used to eat a lot of it, fried with garlic and red pepper, when I lived in Rome, Italy. Can anyone, please, tell me where I can find it here in Atlanta? Thanks a lot. Laura

habib eskandari   Thu Apr 23 2009

your site is very nice please send me about chicory

AKLAVYA   Sat Jul 11 2009


sachin kumar jindal   Mon Jul 13 2009

hu friends, i deals in chichorium intybus.i belongs from india. if any body want to trade me plz contract me. thanks a lot sachin jindal +91 99680485652

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