Chicory

Cichorium intybus
Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Cichorium intybus Perseo in a home garden
Cichorium intybus Perseo in a home garden
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast...This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.
Exodus 12:8, 14 NIV
Cichorium intybus Perseo in a home garden
[The Egyptians] made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields...The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.
Exodus 1:14 & 2:23 NIV

Cultural Information

TypeEdible annual
Height6 inches
Soilwell-amended and well-draining
Exposurefull sun
Leavespalm-sized leaves wrap around a tight head, color ranges by variety from pale green to deep magenta
Flowerscentral stalk of pale blue flowers forms if planted in warmer regions and plant has time to bolt

Planting Tips

  • chicory is commonly known as radicchio, usually called the latter when leaves of the plant will be consumed
  • cultivate as a cool season crop, sowing seeds in early summer for fall harvest
  • plants will over-winter in zones 8 or warmer; sow seeds in fall for spring harvest and cover plants when temps drop below 30 degrees
  • also available in 4" pots at nursery centers where culinary herbs are sold
  • keep soil evenly moist
  • "cut and come again," or harvest leaves a few at a time as desired for fresh salads; however, outer leaves are usually more bitter than the hearts
  • alternately, sow seeds every 10 days or so to harvest leafy heads over a longer time period
  • beware if saving seeds that chicory and endive easily cross-pollinate

Garden to Table

  • enjoy chicory leaves by themselves,  paired with lettuces in salads, or as greens in sandwiches
  • use wide-fanning leaves as garnish for cheese trays or salad displays
  •  all parts of the plant are edible, and chicory root is commonly roasted to brew a coffee-substitute
  • Witloof chicory is usually sold as Belgian endive, after a process known as blanching. Mature plants are uprooted, trimmed to roots and crown, replanted in a loose medium (peat or sand), and stored in a cool, dark basement or cellar. After two months, the tight-formed hearts have grown, nearly white in color and sweet (if not blandly) flavored.

Additional Resources

See Blog Posts on Chicory
The pain of the Israelites’ oppression was experienced by later generations through the bitter-tasting food; then all would know the need to turn to the One whose great strength delivers us in times of bitter anguish (Lamentations 1:4).
-from the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible
Cichorium intybus Perseo in a home garden
[The Egyptians] made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields...The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.
Exodus 1:14 & 2:23 NIV

Photo Credits

©2016 Shelley S. Cramm Radicchio (Chicory) Cichorium intybus ‘Perseo’ grows is a cool spring garden
©2016 Shelley S. Cramm Radicchio (Chicory) forms a tight head of leaves, similar to lettuce and cabbage
©2016 Shelley S. Cramm With a little hunting around, radicchio (Chicory) is readily available at the grocery store
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