​Spotlight on Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

26th Sep 2020

​Spotlight on Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Chicory is a native wildflower steeped in folklore.

One tale tells of a young girl who sat down at the side of the road to cry for her dead lover. She was inconsolable by all who passed her and her grief was so great that she resolved to continue to weep until she was turned into a flower. She was apparently then turned into the chicory.

Another myth speaks of an attractive maiden who was so beautiful that she captivated the sun. To escape the sun's unwelcome advances she transformed into the chicory flower. This is supposedly why the chicory flowers turn their heads to follow the sun as it progresses across the sky during the day.

Tradition says that if you wish to use the plant for magical purposes, the best time to collect it are midday or midnight, at Midsummer or St James's Day and no tools containing iron should be used, or the plant will loose its magical powers.

It is said that if correctly prepared and administered, chicory can render one invisible whenever they wish (if you find out how to do this, please let me know!).

If you wish to win favour with someone of great importance, simply douse your body with the juice of chicory before your audience with them and they will be putty in your hands.

In the UK the flowers open around 7am and close again at noon:

On upland slopes the shepherds mark
The hour, when as the dial true,
Cichorium to the towering Lark,
Lifts her soft eyes, serenely blue.
(From The Horolodge Of The Fields, 1749)

Chicory is an easy to grow versatile herb and the leaves and flowers can be used in salads and the roots were used as a coffee substitute during the war years.

We sell three types of chicory, blue, pink and white and they make very good garden plants, growing up to 1.2m with tall spires containing masses of flowers in early to midsummer.

Full plant details here:

https://shireplants.co.uk/search.php?search_query=cichorium