At first sight, it is not obvious that the Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is the mother of radicchio and sugarloaf. However, if the popular vegetables were sold in flower, the relationship would be easily recognizable.
This also applies to endive, to which it is closely related.
Cichorium intybus grows perennially, can grow up to 1.2 meters high and shows its blue flowers here in Central Europe from July to October. Occasionally white or pink flowering chicory can also be seen.
Chicory is found almost worldwide, it was spread by humans. Its original distribution is in Europe, North Africa and Asia (source).
Cichorium intybus is commonly found in urban areas, where it can grow along roadsides or on stairs. It also inhabits embankments, dams, meadows, field margins and fields.
The leaves of the wild type are also suitable for human consumption. If harvested young. As they age, they become tough and firm. Chicory is loved – or hated – for its bitter compounds.