AskDefine | Define succory

Dictionary Definition

succory n : perennial Old World herb having rayed flower heads with blue florets cultivated for its root and its heads of crisp edible leaves used in salads [syn: chicory, chicory plant, Cichorium intybus]

Extensive Definition

Common chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a bushy perennial herb with blue or lavender flowers. It grows as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and in North America, where it has become naturalized. It is grown for its leaves, or for the roots, which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive. Common chicory is also known as blue sailors, succory, and coffeeweed.

Leaf chicory

Chicory may be grown for its leaves, when the plant is known as endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive or witloof.
The leaves of many varieties are eaten green, but some are grown in complete darkness to keep the new leaves tender and pale, forming chicory tips.
Although leaf chicory is often called "endive", true endive (Cichorium endivia) is a different species.

Root chicory

Root chicory (Cichorium intybus var. sativum) has been in cultivation in Europe as a coffee substitute for a long time. The roots are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive, especially in the Mediterranean region (where the plant is native), although its use as a coffee additive is also very popular in India, parts of Southeast Asia and the American South, particularly in New Orleans.
Around 1970 it was found that the root contains up to 20% inulin. Since then, new strains have been created, giving root chicory an inulin content comparable to that of sugar beet (around 600 dt/ha). Inulin is mainly found in the plant family Asteraceae as a storage carbohydrate (for example Jerusalem artichoke, dahlia etc.). It is used as a sweetener in the food industry (with a sweetening power 30% higher than that of sucrose) and is sometimes added to yogurts as a prebiotic. Inulin can be converted to fructose and glucose through hydrolysis.
Chicory, with sugar beet and rye was used as an ingredient of the East German Mischkaffee (mixed coffee), introduced during the "coffee crisis" of 1976-9.
Some beer brewers use roasted chicory to add flavor to their stouts.

Herbal use

Chicory (especially the flower) was used as a treatment in Germany, and is recorded in many books as an ancient German treatment for everyday ailments. It is variously used as a tonic and appetite stimulant, and as a treatment for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems and cuts and bruises. (Howard M. 1987)

Use and toxicity

Long-term use of chicory as a coffee substitute has been shown to damage human retinal tissue, with dimming of vision over time and other long term effects. Although small amounts of root chicory consumed medicinally or as a seasoning can be healthy and/or harmless, root chicory contains volatile oils that can be metabolized in the liver and digestive tract into toxic by-products that damage retinal nerve cells and cause dimming of vision if regularly consumed in large quantities as a coffee substitute. Root chicory contains volatile oils similar to those found in plants in the related genus Tanacetum which includes Tansy, and is likewise effective at eliminating intestinal worms. All parts of the plant contain these volatile oils, with the majority of the toxic components concentrated in the plants root.
Chicory is well known for its toxicity to internal parasites. Studies indicate that ingestion of chicory by farm animals results in reduction of worm burdens, which has prompted its widespread use as a forage supplement. There are only a few major companies active in research, development, and production of chicory varieties and selections. Most of them are in New Zealand.


The chicory plant is one of the earliest cited in recorded literature. Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae" ("As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance"). Lord Monboddo describes the plant in 1779 as the "chicoree", which the French cultivate as a pot herb. In the Napoleonic Era in France, chicory frequently appeared as either an adulterant in coffee or a coffee substitute; this practice also became common in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the United States chicory root has long been used as a substitute for coffee in prisons.
Chicory is an ingredient in typical Roman recipes, generally fried with garlic and red pepper, with its bitter and spicy taste, often together with meat or potatoes. FAO reports that in 2005, China and the USA were the top producers of lettuce and chicory.
Chicory is also mentioned in certain sericulture (silk-growing) texts. It is said that the primary caretaker of the silkworms, the "silkworm mother" should not eat or even touch it.
The chicory flower is often seen as inspiration for the Romantic concept of the Blue Flower. It was also believed to be able to open locked doors, according to European folklore.


image:Lavender chicory01.jpg|Common chicory with lavender flowers image:Chicory_flower_001.jpg|Cichorium intybus Photo: Bruce Marlin
succory in Arabic: هندباء برية
succory in Danish: Cikorie
succory in German: Wegwarten
succory in Spanish: Cichorium
succory in Esperanto: Cikorio
succory in Persian: کاسنی
succory in French: Chicorée
succory in Ossetian: Цикори
succory in Hebrew: עולש (צמח)
succory in Lithuanian: Trūkažolė
succory in Dutch: Cichorei
succory in Japanese: チコリー
succory in Portuguese: Chicória
succory in Polish: Cykoria podróżnik
succory in Romanian: Cichorium
succory in Russian: Цикорий
succory in Albanian: Cichorium
succory in Serbian: Цикорија
succory in Chinese: 菊苣
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