Cichorium endivia L.
Endive, Cultivated Endive
Cichorium casnia, Cichorium crispum, Cichorium endivia f. endivia, Cichorium endivia var. endivia, Cichorium endivia subsp. endivia, Cichorium esculentum, Cichorium intybus var. endivia
Bloom Time: July to October
Cichorium endivia is an annual or biennial, erect herb up to 5.6 feet (1.7 m) tall, with taproot, containing bitter, milky juice, producing a rosette of large leaves when young, these forming a loosehead. It produces attractive pale blue flowers on stems that stand way above the leafy foliage. There is considerable confusion between C. endivia and Cichorium intybus.
How to Grow and Care
Seeds can be started indoors five to six weeks before they are moved outdoors. In warm climates, sowing outdoors or transplanting occurs from September through March. Planting Chicory in cooler climates should be done three to four weeks before the danger of frost has passed.
Sow Chicory seeds 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet (60 to 0) apart. You can always thin the plants if they crowd each other, but close planting discourages weeds. The seeds are planted ¼ inch (6 mm) deep, and thinning is done when the plants have three to four true leaves.
You can also sow a crop for fall harvest if you choose a variety that has an early maturation date. Planting Chicory seed 75 to 85 days before the anticipated harvest will ensure a late crop.
Chicory plants that are to be forced for blanched leaves will need to have the roots dug up before the first frost. Cut the leaves to 1 inch (2.5 cm) and store the roots for three to seven weeks in the refrigerator before forcing. Plant the roots individually after chilling to force the leaves to grow in a tight, blanched head. See more at How to Grow and Care for Chicory.
It is probably native to India, although there are other opinions, including that it hails from Egypt or China, or that it is a hybrid between Cichorium intybus and Cichorium pumilum, a wild species from Turkey and Syria.