From The Plant Encyclopedia
Chicory, Wild Endive
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|Wild endive (Cichorium pumilum)|
|Species in this genus|
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- Cultivation: Invastive, Naturalizing, Low-Maintenance, Easy-To-Grow, For-Gardeners, For-Horticulturists
- Light: Sun
- Soil: Rich, Mid-Fertility, Poor, Loam, Clay, Sand
- pH: 7
- Moisture: Medium, Dry, Well-Drained
- Form: Herbaceous
- Habit: Perennial, Annual
- Flower: Medium, Pink, Purple
- Fruit/Seed: Small
- Foliage: Leaves, Green, Yellow, Red, Pink, Purple, White
- Uses: Edible, Ornamental, Industrial
Cichorium is a Genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. The species are commonly known as chicory or endive – there are two cultivated species, and four to six wild species.
True Endive (Cichorium endivia) is a species grown and used as a Salad green. It has a slightly bitter taste and has been attributed with herbal properties. Curly endive and the broad-leafed escarole are true endives.
Domestic Garden Varieties
You will find varieties of this domesticated garden plant here, Cichorium intybus
Chicory may be cultivated for its leaves, usually eaten raw as Salad leaves. Cultivated chicory is generally divided into three types, of which there are many varieties:
- Radicchio usually has variegated red or red and green leaves. Some only refer to the white-veined red leaved type as radicchio. Also known as red endive and red chicory. It has a bitter and spicy taste, which mellows when it is grilled or roasted. It can also be used to add color and zest to salads.
- Sugarloaf looks rather like cos lettuce, with tightly packed leaves.
- Belgian endive is also known as French endive, witlof in Dutch or witloof in Belgian Dutch, witloof in the United States , chicory in the UK, as witlof in Australia, endive in France, and chicon in parts of northern France and in Wallonia. It has a small head of cream-coloured, bitter leaves. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up (Etiolation). The plant has to be kept just below the soil surface as it grows, only showing the very tip of the leaves. It is often sold wrapped in blue paper to protect it from light and so preserve its pale colour and delicate flavour. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw. The tender leaves are slightly bitter; the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste. The harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking to prevent bitterness. Belgium exports chicon/witloof to over 40 different countries. The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Endive is cultivated for culinary use by cutting the leaves from the growing plant, then keeping the living stem and root in a dark place. A new bud develops but without sunlight it is white and lacks the bitterness of the sun-exposed foliage. Today France is the largest producer of endive.
Cichorium is used as a food plant by the Larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Setaceous Hebrew Character, Turnip Moth, and the Grass moth Diasemia reticularis.