Chicory – Cichorium intybus

Chicory flowers
Chicory flowers

Show me a piece of land that God forgot—
a strip between an unused sidewalk, say,
and a bulldozed lot, rich in broken glass—
and there, July on, will be chicory,

its leggy hollow stems staggering skyward,
its leaves rough-hairy and lanceolate,
like pointed shoes too cheap for elves to wear,
its button-blooms the tenderest mauve-blue.

By John Updike

This native of Europe and temperate areas of Asia was first introduced to North America during the colonial period being brought here as a medicine. The flowers of chicory are normally blue and face the sun as it rises in the morning. By afternoon the flowers are faded, withered and done.

Historically Blue Sailors was used to purify the blood and liver, as a part of a compound for headaches, and to treat jaundice, dyspepsia, loss of appetite, and as a mild laxative. Chicory was also used for connective tissue diseases such as gout and other rheumatic conditions.

 

The ancient Romans used Chicory as a vegetable or in salads; generally they are blanched first to remove bitterness. The root was dried and ground to be added to a coffee substitute that utilizes Dandelion. Even today the Luzianne coffee company uses Chicory as a special ingredient in their brand of coffee.

 

Chicory is a plant of the Sun (probably due to the flowers following the sun) and is used in Magic to remove all obstacles that would crop up during a lifetime. At one time it was used to open locked boxes and doors. To obtain this use one had to undergo certain formalities in gathering it. Take a golden knife and at midnight on Midsummer, in total silence harvest Chicory to secure the magic of open locks!

 

The leaves have been used to produce a blue dye.

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