Cichorium intybus L. var. sativus (Chicory)

Crop Type: Open field crop

Breeding system: Predominantly allogamous

The Chicory (Cichorium intybus L. var. sativus) is a biennial species, belonging to the Asteraceae family. The wild species commonly grows along roads, on fields, pastures and secondary habitats, from lowlands to foothills. It is widely distributed across Europe, North Africa, and Iran, until the Baikal Lake in the Eastern part of Russia (, 2019) Secondary distribution is in East Asia, South America, South Africa and on New Zealand. The chicory is used as vegetable (var. foliosus), medicinal plant and for production of coffee substitute (var. sativus).

The chicory is valuable vegetable due to its chemical composition. Roots can contain up to 20 % of storage polysaccharide inulin – composed of fructose derivatives – and fructans that are important as sweetener for diabetics. Inulin is used as an energy reserve by some plants (Van den Ende et al. 2011), and also plays different roles in the regulation of osmotic pressure, sink strength, and resistance to cold and drought (Valluru and Van den Ende 2008; Livingston et al. 2009). Interestingly, inulin is currently used as additive to various food products, such as yoghurt and bread (Kip et al. 2006; Morris and Morris 2012, Maroufi et al, 2018).

The main active substances for medicinal use are present in latex, mainly terpenic and glycosidic bitters supporting control of appetite, digestion and bile secretion. It also contains tannins, mannitol, rubber, choline, arginine and mineral compounds. In the folk medicine decoction is prepared from both root (Radix cichorii) and green parts (Herba cichorii) for blood cleaning, promoting bile secretion, supporting digestion. It was also traditionally used for treating skin inflammations and rashes (Wendys, 2019).

The cuItivated chicory came to Middle Europe from the Netherlands during blockades of ports by Napoleon (Hruška, 1966).

  • (2019) at
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