€1,50 – €3,50
One of the few flowers in the Polish flora with really large, very blue flowers. Common chicory is an ancient wild vegetable and medicinal herb, currently it provides, among others, a grain coffee. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
Polish name: chicory the traveler, wild chicory, field chicory, blue traveler, field traveler, common traveler
Latin name: Cichorium intybus L.
Family: the asters Asteraceae (the composites Compositae), subfamily: chicory Cichorioidae
Status in Poland: archeophyte (alien species, established in the Middle Ages), common in Poland
Tall or medium (30-200 cm high) perennial with pithy root, stem, and strongly blue (in some varieties white or pink) “flowers” (or rather flower heads), common in ruderal areas and field margins among traditionally cultivated fields and meadows. White sap in all the herb.
Tap roots, relatively thick, hard, erect or slightly branched, brown when cut, bitter or slightly burning to the taste.
Stems tall, branched, thin, but difficult to break due to strong fibers.
Three types of leaves: basal (rosette), stem, and upper. The lower leaves are characterized by deep, sinus indentations and hairiness on the underside, they’re impressive, 10-20 cm long. The middle, stem leaves, are characterized by a more oblong or lanceolate shape. The upper leaves are entire-margined.
Inflorescences in the form of blue heads, made of individual flowers.
Fruit in the form of elliptical achenes with 2-5-angular shape, with a wreath of short pappus at the apex, spread by the wind.
It prefers sunny places with light, dry, permeable, sandy or rendsinous soil with slightly alkaline pH.
Due to its flowering at the constant part of the day and turning the heads towards the sun (like a sunflower), the common chicory is often sown in flower clocks.
In the bee pastures the common chicory is sown in July, less often multiplied by dividing clumps and apical cuttings.
Young specimens are radically thinned, leaving only the healthiest and most beautiful. When the first baskets are overblown, it is worth cutting them off so as not to weaken the plants by forming seeds. On the other hand, in root plantations, no specimens for flowering are allowed.
Common chicory is one of the oldest wild vegetables and herbs. It was part of the bitter herbs consumed at the Jewish Passover. To this day, it is an important component of the Bedouin diet. Modern academic medicine has confirmed the opinion of medieval Muslim doctors like Avicenna about the anti-cancer effect of this chicory herb.
In the times of wars and economic blockades, the roasted root of this chicory was one of the most important coffee substitutes, and is still part of the cereal coffee to this day. In addition, it is used to make podpiwek (Polish and Lithuanian non-alcoholic beverage) and some types of dark craft beers.
The root syrup simultaneously sweetens and preserves the food.
The common chicory is a good plant for bee pastures, although it nectars only from 7.00 to 12.00. It provides, however, from 40 to 300 kg of nectar per ha and pollen rich in proteins, on condition that it is properly cared for (quilting seedlings, cutting off overblown inflorescences).
Eagerly visited by a honey bee. Increasingly used in special mixtures of native species, or at least non-invasive, to save Europe’s wild pollinators.
Pollen and nectar are attractive to bumblebees and solitary bees (mason bees, leafcutting bees, sweat bees and Heriades bee genus).