Chicory plant (Cichorium intybus)
The edible Chicory is a woody plant growing up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) tall. It is also known as blue sailors, succory, coffeeweed, and sometimes cornflower. It has unlobed, pointed leaves clustered at the base of a tough, grooved, and more or less hairy stem and some leaves on the stem. The base leaves resemble those of the dandelion. The flowers are bright sky blue (rarely white or pink) and stay open only on sunny days. Chicory has a milky juice.
Where to find the Chicory plant in the wild
Look for chicory in old fields, waste areas, weedy lots, and along roads. It is a native of Europe and Asia but is also found in Africa and most of North America, where it grows as a weed.
Edible Parts of the Chicory plant
All parts are edible. Eat the young leaves (usually bitter) as a salad or boil to eat as a vegetable (boiling removes some of the bitterness too). Cook the roots as a vegetable. For use as a coffee substitute, roast the roots until they are dark brown and then pulverize them.
Other uses for the Chicory plant
Some Chicory contains oils which are effective in eliminating intestinal worms and parasites (all parts of the plant contain these oils). It has been used to treat gallstones, sinus problems, cuts and bruises, and improve bowel movement. Chicory is also an excellent substitute for oats for horses (due to its protein and fat content).