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Garden Chicory

  • Cichorium intybus L.
  • Compositae
  • Composite family

Common Names

herbsGarden chicory
herbsGarden endive (Cichorium endive)
herbsWild chicory
herbsWild succory
herbsBlue dandelion

Parts Usually Used

Rootstock, flowering herb

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A perennial or biennial plant 2-4 feet tall; the large taproot; light yellow outside, white inside, and, like the rest of the plant, contains a bitter, milky juice. The stiff, roughly hairy, angular, branching stem bears lanceolate leaves that are coarsely wavy, toothed near the bottom of the plant but entire higher up. The light-blue to violet-blue, axillary or terminal flowerheads in small clusters in upper leaf axils, feature rays that are toothed at the ends. They open in the morning. Flowering time is from July to September or October. Seeds are pale brown.

Where Found

Commonly cultivated and also are a common sight wild, along roadsides, in vacant lots, waste ground, and fields throughout the United States and Europe. Most of the United States cultivated Chicory is grown in Michigan State.

Medicinal Properties

Appetizer, astringent, carminitive, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, hepatic, laxative, tonic.

Legends, Myths and Stories

It would surprise many farmers to know that this weed, so common in barnyards and along waysides, was a highly regarded medicine of the ancient Egyptian and Arabian physicians. The plant was very common over most of Europe before America was discovered, and is still much used by people of modern times. The blanched leaves are used in salads; the baked roots as pottage, and pulverized dried roots of Chicory was used to give body to coffee, or as a coffee substitute.

Roasted chicory roots may be used as a substitute for coffee and the young leaves eaten in salads. Chicory is used as an additive to coffee. The French are particularly fond of chicory in coffee.

Roasted chicory not only cuts down the caffeine content of coffee, but also gives coffee body and smoothness, which millions of coffee drinkers prefer. When adulterating Roasted Chicory with coffee, begin with a small amount; add more to subsequent mixtures until you acquire the most desirable mixture. Naturally the more Roasted Chicory used, the less caffeine you will get.

At one time, this was a disreputable adulterant in coffee; but by skillful roasting methods it has become an esteemed ingredient in New Orleans type coffee. Roasted Chicory now deserves a niche of its own as a flavor in the culinary world. For a delightful and wholesome difference, heat (do not boil) 1 cup of milk, add 1 tsp. (or more if desired) of roasted chicory; steep 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste. The flavor of this beverage is very much like a milk chocolate. This beverage leaves no caffeine jitters, and contains no theobromine (as in cocoa) that sometimes causes digestive disturbance.


Chicory is often helpful for jaundice and for spleen problems. The juice of the leaves and a tea made from the flowering plant promote the production of bile, the release of gallstones, and the elimination of excessive internal mucus. They are also useful for gastritis, lack of appetite, and digestive difficulties. AA decoction of the rootstock is said to be helpful to the glandular organs or the digestive system. For painful inflammations, try applying the boiled leaves and flowers wrapped in a cloth. Also a spring tonic.

One ounce root in 1 pint of water used as a diuretic, laxative, folk use for jaundice, skin eruptions, slightly sedative, and mildly laxative. Homeopathically used for liver and gall bladder ailments. Leaf extracts weaker than root extracts. In experiments, animals given chicory root extracts exhibit a slower and weaker heart rate (pulse). It has been suggested that the plant should be researched for use in heart irregularities. Root extracts in alcohol solutions have proven anti-inflammatory effects in experiments.

Formulas or Dosages

Gather the rootstock from March to May.

Decoction: use 1 tsp. rootstock or herb per 1/2 cup of cold water; bring to a boil and strain. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, a mouthful at a time.

Juice: take 1 tbsp. in milk or water, 3 times per day.

How Sold

Found in most supermarkets

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