Chicory (Cichorium intybus)


Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Cichorium
Species: C. intybus


Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a perennial herbaceous plant in the dandelion family, usually with bright blue flowers. It is native to Europe and has been naturalized in many parts of the world. It is grown and cultivated for its leaves and roots, which are used for culinary purposes, as well as for its medicinal properties.

Growing Conditions

Chicory is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of conditions, but it prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil. It can tolerate poor soil conditions and is often found growing wild in meadows, pastures, and roadside ditches.

Chicory is a biennial plant, which means it completes its life cycle in two years. In the first year, it produces a rosette of leaves close to the ground. In the second year, it sends up a tall flower stalk with blue, lavender, or occasionally white flowers.

When growing chicory in a garden setting, it should be planted in the spring after the last frost. The seeds should be sown directly into the ground, as chicory does not transplant well. The plants should be spaced about 10 to 12 inches apart.

Chicory is a relatively low-maintenance plant. It does not require much watering, and it is resistant to most pests and diseases. However, it can be susceptible to powdery mildew, so it should be monitored for signs of this disease.

Chicory leaves are ready to harvest when they reach about 12 to 18 inches in height. You can pull the plant, roots included, from the soil gently and chop off the root, but keep the leaves. If you plan on forcing chicory to grow chicons, cut the leaves so 1 inch remains above the soil and follow the forcing process1.

For harvesting the roots for making chicory coffee, you can do this in the fall. Dig up the roots, clean them, and let them dry. Once they are dried, you can roast them in an oven until they are browned and give off a rich, coffee-like aroma. After roasting, let the roots cool and then grind them in a coffee grinder2.

Medicinal Uses

Chicory has a long history of medicinal use. The plant contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, coumarins, and sesquiterpene lactones, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

One of the most well-known uses of chicory is as a coffee substitute or additive. The roots of the plant can be roasted, ground, and brewed like coffee. This “chicory coffee” is especially popular in certain parts of the world, such as New Orleans.

Chicory root is also a rich source of inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Inulin has been shown to help improve digestion, reduce constipation, and boost the immune system.

Recent research has also suggested that chicory may have potential as a treatment for various health conditions. For example, a [study]( published in 2023 found that chicory extracts could enhance the corrosion resistance of magnesium alloys, suggesting potential applications in the field of materials science.

Another [study]( from the same year highlighted the potential of chicory as a source of prebiotics, which can help to improve gut health.

Culinary Uses and Recipes

One of the most well-known uses of chicory is as a coffee substitute or additive. The roots of the plant can be roasted, ground, and brewed like coffee. This “chicory coffee” is especially popular in certain parts of the world, such as New Orleans2.

Here is a simple recipe for making your own Chicory Coffee3:


  • 2 tablespoons chicory root, roasted
  • 6 cups water


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the chicory root on a baking sheet and roast until it’s browned and has a rich, coffee-like aroma. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Let the chicory root cool and then grind it in a coffee grinder.
  3. Add the ground chicory to a coffee maker and brew it as you would regular coffee.

Crafts and Decorative Uses

Chicory is not only a useful plant but also a beautiful one. Its bright blue flowers can add a splash of color to any garden or landscape. The flowers can also be used in floral arrangements or dried for use in crafts.




1. Leal de Oliveira, K., Rodrigues, P. S., Decanine, D., & Rodrigues Gomes, S. (2023). Diversity and abundance of terrestrial molluscs and their associated nematode fauna in urban kitchen gardens in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências. [Link](

2. Fernandes, A., Nair, A. S., Kulkarni, N., Todewale, N., & Jobby, R. (2023). Exploring Mushroom Polysaccharides for the Development of Novel Prebiotics: A Review. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. [Link](

3. Li, P., Shao, Z., Fu, W., Ma, W., Yang, K., Zhou, H. D., & Gao, M. (2023). Enhancing corrosion resistance of magnesium alloys via combining green chicory extracts and metal cations as organic-inorganic composite inhibitor. Corrosion Science. [Link](

4. Missouri Botanical Garden. (n.d.). Chicory. [Link](

  1. What Is Chicory and Why Is It in My Coffee?
  2. How to Make Chicory Coffee

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