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CICHORIUM endivia

Image of Cichorium endivia

James H. Schutte

Family

Asteraceae

Botanical Name

CICHORIUM endivia

Plant Common Name

Endive

General Description

Endive is a leafy vegetable that’s most commonly eaten fresh in salads or cooked as a green in soups and other recipes. There are two forms: Curly endive, or frisée, which has finely lobed leaves with curly edges, and the broad, smooth-leaved form called escarole. Like lettuce, radicchio and chicory, it is a member of the daisy family, Asteraceae, and is easily grown in the home garden. It is thought to be native to India and possibly Asia but has been become naturalized in Europe, Africa and South America due to wide cultivation.

Cichorium endivia is an annual or biennial that forms a low-growing rosette of foliage, much like lettuce. The fine leaves of curly endive are deeply divided and curly and may also be known botanically as Cichorium endivia var. crispa. Escarole has broad, smooth leaves that form more uniform heads is often listed under the name, Cichorum endivia var. latifolium. Garden grown plants rarely flower because they are harvested before they bolt, but they produce tall, branched clusters of pretty blue daisies. The fruits are small, angled, dark seeds topped with white plumes of bristly hairs that allow the seeds to be caught by the wind and float away.

Endive is grown under the same conditions as lettuce. It performs best in cool weather, so it is grown in spring and fall in most temperate zones. In the frost-free south it is a favorite winter crop. Full sun and light, fertile, nutrient-rich soil and regular water are needed to produce good endive. It’s a good idea to plant a few seeds in succession for a longer harvest of fresh leaves or heads. Pick a few outer leaves early and allow the plant to continue to grow until maturity. Endive often has a bitter bite to its flavor that will become stronger as plants age and the weather heats up. One way to reduce bitterness is to blanch the leaves. This may be accomplished by covering the plants with a basket or pot, or tying the leaves around the head two weeks before harvest. The leaves will turn pale green or white and will be sweeter. Endive and escarole are ready to harvest 85 to 100 days from planting.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Vegetable

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    4"-18" / 10.2cm - 45.7cm

  • Width

    6"-24" / 15.2cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Asia, India

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Sky Blue, Blue Violet

  • Fruit Color

    Brown, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes