Creature Feature: Chicory (Chichorium intybus)
By Emma Dean, CG Science Editor
When driving during the summer, it’s not unusual to see bright, colorful wildflowers littering the roadside. Between the months of May and October, attention-grabbing, purple-blue flowers thrive. Chicory’s color palette can be found in its areas of preference which include roadsides but also open fields and waste areas.
Although a native of Europe, chicory has travelled to North America as well as Africa, Australia and South America. The perennial has more uses than its scenic visual appeal. Its leaves may be added to salads in a similar manner as dandelion leaves are eaten. In fact, even ancient Egyptians consumed chicory, believing that the plant could purify the blood and liver. Even today the plant is used as a remedy for loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation as well as liver and gallbladder disorders.
However, a more common use of chicory derives from the root rather than the leaves. The root is ground up and mixed with coffee or sometimes used as a substitute. Chicory counteracts the stimulating effects of caffeine.
- Other monikers for chicory include succory, wild succory, hendibeh, blue sailors and wild endive.
- Only a few flower heads bloom at a time per plant. Each bloom lasts for merely one day.
- Chicory is a rich source of beta-carotene.
- Chicory aids the body in its ability to absorb calcium.
- When roasted, coffee yields 21 to 25 percent of soluble extractive matter while roasted chicory yields 45 to 65 percent.
- Supposedly when World War II upset shipping, most United States’ coffee was produced from chicory.
- Creature Feature: Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) | College Green Magazine – Eco-news From The Ground Up