Scientific name: Cichorium intybus
Abundance: uncommon
What: Leaves, roots, flowers
How: leaves raw or cooked; root roasted then ground into a coffee substitute; flowers can be eaten raw or pickled
Where: Sunny areas, ditches, abandoned yards
When: early spring otherwise leaves are too bitter
Nutritional Value: Leaves contain vitamins A, C, K

Medicinal Summary:
Root - diuretic; antibacterial; laxative; sedative; appetite stimulant (tisane, tincture)

Leaf Arrangement: The leaves are arranged in a basal rosette at the ground level, with alternate arrangement along the flowering stems.

Leaf Shape: Basal leaves are spatulate to oblong, with sharp lobes, while stem leaves are lanceolate and no or very shallow lobes.

Venation: This plant features pinnate venation, with a central vein and smaller branching veins.

Leaf Margin: The margins of the leaves vary, with basal leaves having irregular, lobed, and dentate (toothed) margins, and stem leaves more often having entire margins.

Leaf Color: The leaves are a bluish-green color.

Flower Structure: Chicory flowers are daisy-like, composed of many small florets, all of which are ray florets. Each petal widens outwards and ends in several short spikes, shaped similar to Bart Simpson's hair.

Flower Color: The flowers are predominantly blue.

Fruit: The fruit is an achene, which is a small, dry fruit that does not open to release the seed.

Seeds: Seeds are small, brown, oblong, and slightly ridged. Each has a "flying parachute" like dandelion seeds.

Stem: Stems are tough, branching, and rough-textured, often with milky sap.

Roots: Forms a thick taproot that can grow to several inches in diameter and over a foot long.

Hairs: Chicory leaves are smooth on top but have fine hairs underneath.

Height: It typically reaches heights of 30 to 45 inches.

Chicory plant before growing flower stalks.

Chicory flowers along a stem. The long, narrow leaves around the flowers are wild onions hiding the chicory leaves.

Close-up of chicory flower.

Chicory leaves are smooth on top but hairy underneath.
Chicory Leaves

Chicory root.
Chicory Roots

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Look for chicory in old, abandoned fields and farmhouse yards. It also shows up quite plentifully in road ditches but that's not a good place to harvest plants. In Texas chicory is a cool-weather (fall/winter/spring) plant but across the rest of North America it can be found most of the summer.

The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads, though they do have a strong, somewhat bitter taste. This bitterness increases once the plant flowers. See "Preparation Tips for Bitter Greens" for ways to cut the bitterness of these greens.

Unlike dandelions, chicory will produce multiple blossoms along a stiff, somewhat woody stem. These flowers are eaten raw or pickled. One could probably make tea from them but it won't have the flavor or medicinal properties of dandelion flower tea.

Chicory roots can be used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Roast the roots to a dark brown color in an oven at 400F. The darker the color the more roasted flavor they will have. After roasting coarsely grind the roasted roots before using to brew coffee.

Edible Dandelion Mimics:
Cat's Ear
Japanese Hawkweed
Sow Thistle
Texas Dandelion
Wild Lettuce

Buy my book! Outdoor Adventure Guides Foraging covers 70 of North America's tastiest and easy to find wild edibles shown with the same big pictures as here on the Foraging Texas website.

Privacy & Amazon Paid Promotion Statement

I use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit this website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.

I participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. The prices you pay for the item isn't affected, my sales commission comes out of Amazon's pocket.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.