Kaffka, Stephen R. Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, California.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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A perennial herb, Cichorium intybus, with a long taproot; a coarse, branching stem; and a basal rosette of numerous leaves. Chicory (see illustration) is a member of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family with a history of cultivation dating back to dynastic Egypt. It occurs as a weed worldwide in a diverse range of environments and annual, biennial and perennial growth habits can be found. In particular, two forms of chicory are cultivated: Cichorium intybus var. foliosum is an annual form used as a vegetable or salad plant (endive and radicchio), whereas Cichorium intybus var. sativum (the agronomic or industrial form of the genus) has a number of uses, including leaf production for forage and root production for use as a coffee substitute (in addition, the roasted root is often used as an adulterant of coffee). More recently, chicory has become important in the production of fructo-sugars and dietary fibers as a result of the high amount of the polysaccharide inulin found in its roots. See also: Asterales; Coffee; Root (botany); Spice and flavoring; Weeds
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