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CICHORIUM intybus

Image of Cichorium intybus

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Asteraceae

Botanical Name

CICHORIUM intybus

Plant Common Name

Radicchio, Wild Chicory

General Description

Native to Europe and the Mediterranean and naturalized worldwide, wild chicory is a clumping perennial grown for its long, lobed, edible leaves and for its stout taproot, which is used as a coffee substitute. It also has medicinal uses, and is sometimes cultivated in ornamental gardens for its flowers.

"Leaf chicories" come in several types. The bitter, dandelion-like leaves of loose-leaf chicories are good in salads (when young) or in cooked dishes. Witloof or Belgian endive bears erect heads of narrower leaves, which are grown in low light (or "blanched") to provide greens for salads and saut├ęs. Broad-leaved types such as radicchio form dense cabbage-like heads of rounded, shallowly lobed, often ruffled leaves, which may be green or burgundy-red.

Plants grown for their roots are sometimes known as Cichorium intybus var. sativum. Young roots are roasted, ground, and added to beverages including coffee, tea and stout. All parts of the chicory plant including its milky sap have been used medicinally.

Clusters of pretty blue daisy-like blooms are produced atop tall leafless stalks if plants are allowed to mature. Pink- and white-flowered forms are occasionally sold. The small brown wedge-shaped seeds that follow the flowers are tipped with bristly hairs which aid in dispersal. Plants self-sow liberally in favorable sites.

Grow this perennial in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Chicory grows best in cool weather, so in most temperate zones it is best as a spring or fall crop. In mild, frost-free climates it is a favorite winter crop. Time from sowing to harvest varies from 4 to 5 weeks for loose-leaved types to 10 to 12 weeks for broad-leaved types.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 10

  • 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

    24"-48" / 61.0cm - 121.9cm

  • Width

    12"-24" / 30.5cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Europe, Mediterranean, Northern Africa, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Sky Blue

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes