Chicory – Cichorium intybus
A Mediterranean native, Chicory is now commonly found growing throughout most of Europe and North America, found in sunny spots alongside fields and roadsides. A perennial with a large taproot, Chicory grows around 3-5 feet/1-1.5 meters tall, bearing grey-green pinnately toothed leaves with hairy undersides on the base of a stiff stalk, with lanceolate leaves further up, attached directly to the twig-like stalk. Chicory’s numerous bright blue flowers are stemless and also grow directly on the branch, blossoming from midsummer to mid-fall, and have a unique pattern of opening each morning and closing again around noon.
Harvesting: Gather the young leaves and use fresh, but pick before flowering if going to dry and preserve. The flowers can be gathered in early summer, either fresh or for drying as well. And the roots are best harvested in the autumn, washed, and either dried or roasted, and then ground up or chopped.
Uses & Actions: Chicory’s leaves can be eaten as salad greens, and its roots are a very common coffee-substitute, being harvested, roasted, and ground into a fine powder. Chicory is perhaps a lesser known medicinal herb, but it does have a long held tradition of being used for many liver disorders, kidney stones and gallstones, infections, promoting the flow of bile, and for urinary tract inflammation. It is diuretic, aiding in eliminating uric acid from the body, making it a helpful herbal support for gout and rheumatism. A bitter tonic, Chicory is gentle and yet very effective, quite similar to Dandelion. Sometimes downplayed or overlooked, Chicory is a steady, hardy herbal ally with much to offer.
Botanical Design: “Medicinal Plants Coloring Book” – Ilil Arbel
I hope you enjoyed this short herbal monograph! Head back to the Herbalism page for more ways to study herbs and their properties, actions, preparations, and traditional use in day-to-day living, or look up a few more herbal mini-monographs and read about another plant in depth.
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