Cichorium intybus

Chicory

Botanical description: Cichorium intybus is an erect, perennial herb that can be found in median strips, vacant lots, seams of cracked pavements and along roadsides - all conducive habitats due its ability to tolerate highly alkaline soils and drought. Chicory is unmistakable with its deep sky-blue flowers on wiry, leafless stalks that can rise up to five feet, a meadowy spectacle along roadways as it blooms side by side with Queen Anne’s lace. Flowers only open in the bright sunshine of summer mornings and often fade before noon. A basal rosette of leaves resembles dandelion foliage, with the same milky sap and a fleshy taproot. Chicory has been cultivated for human consumption for millennia, bred to enhance particular characteristics, as in the cultivated variety of chicory known as endive. The leaves can be sautéed and blanched, and is a popular vegetable combined with pasta in parts of Europe for flavor. The young leaves and blossoms can be used in salads most times of the year. Its thick roots have been roasted and ground as a coffee substitute and is the flavoring found in “French Roast” blends. This multipurpose plant contains high amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and minerals and boasts of medicinal properties.