CHICORY, WITLOOF CHICORY
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae), Cichorium intybus L.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Chicory, Cichorium intybus L., is a perennial herb native
to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, and naturalized in
North America. Also known as common chicory, blue-sailor's
succory, and witloof, this long-time cultivated plant reaches
a height of 1 to 2 meters and has bright blue flowers. Several
distinct cultivars of chicory exist, developed from breeding programs
designed to meet the different commercial uses of the plant. Centers
of chicory production are located in Belgium, Holland, France,
and the United States.
The reported life zone of chicory is 6 to 27 degrees centigrade
with 0.3 to 4 meters of annual precipitation and a soil pH of-4.5
to 8.3 (4.1-31). The plant does best in cool weather and
calcareous soils. Cultivated chicory is planted in the spring
and the harvested or harvested and crowns are harvested in autumn.
The harvested material is stored until winter and then placed
in an environment conducive to "forcing" growth in the
off-season. A blanched, highly desirable, creamy-oolored
head develops in 2 to 4 weeks.
Chicory is a source of the natural taste modifier maltol, known
to intensify the flavor of sugar (11.1-96). The crop is also
a potential source of fructose for the flavor industry (5.1-10,
11.1-96). The fresh roots contain large amounts of inulin,
vitamins A and C, chicoric acid, esculitin, esculin, chichociim,
and several other bitter compounds (1.1-72, 1.1-203,
Cultivars of chicory developed for use as coffee substitutes have
large, thickened roots that are externally yellow and internally
white. The roots of these plants are dried, chopped, roasted,
and ground for addition to coffee, imparting a strong, bitter
flavor. Cultivars of chicory developed for use in salads have
more and larger leaves than other cultivars. Salad leaves are
often blanched in the field to reduce possible bitterness. Young
and tender roots can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Chicory
extracts are used in alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
As a medicinal plant, chicory root has been used as a digestive
aid, diuretic, laxative, tonic, and mild sedative. The root has
also been used against jaundice, inflammations, warts, tumors,
and cancer (14.1-13). Chicory was thought to purify the liver
and spleen. Extracts from the roots have been shown to affect
heart tissue isolated from toad (7.5-96).
Cichorium endive L., commonly called endive, is cultivated
as a salad plant.
Chicory is generally recognized as safe for human consumption
when used as a plant extract (21 CFR section 182.20 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997