The chicory plant originally came from the Mediterranean and traveled from Europe to spread across North America with the colonists. The color is usually blue or lavender and the flower remains on the plant only one day, with quantities of stiff hairs on the underside of the chicory flower. It stores a white milky sap the oozes out if the stem is broken. The height of the chicory is about five feet tall with a long taproot. Common names include blue sailors, blue dandelion, coffeeweed, radicchio and succory.
Used as an additive for coffee world over, chicory is also sometimes classed as an invasive plant
Chicory leaves and roots are used for food, and in some regions of Europe they roast chicory root that are grown in large numbers for use as a coffee substitute or additive to teas and in the manufacture of beer. It is caffeine free, and gaining in popularity. Chicory is generally recognized as safe to eat by the Federal Drug Administration. Chicory was used by the ancient Romans not only in beverages, but for liver problems as well. The chicory flower is mentioned in old German literature for use as a tonic in treating various everyday problems.
Today, chicory leaves are used in many of Roman restaurants, prepared with olive oil and seasoned with garlic, red peppers and lemon juice. In Holland, chicory is often used in Dutch cooking and served with bacon and mashed potatoes.
The leaves of the chicory plant are thick and slightly hairy
A pound of chicory seed has over 425,000 seeds in it as well as a high mineral and protein content in the foliage that is easily digested by cattle and sheep. The blooming season lasts from the first of May to the last of October. Suggested planting depths are one sixteenth of and inch deep and germination occurs within three weeks from planting, with an eighty percent chance of success. Most of the companies involved in research and development are located in New Zealand; Wrightson Seed Company owns the United States license for distribution of the Puna, Choice and Oasis to the Barenbrug USA and the AMPAC seed company which supply most of the chicory used planted in for dairy farms today.