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Re: Re: chicory - more than you really want to know

Thanks so much - very interesting reading!

Pam Evans
Kemp, TX
zone 8A
----- Original Message -----
From: Aplfgcnys@aol.com
Sent: 5/9/2004 7:28:57 AM
To: gardenchat@hort.net
Subject: Re: [CHAT] chicory - more than you really want to know

>   This publication has, from time to time, reported on the ongoing discussion 
> concerning native plants as opposed to "invasive aliens," and the political 
> aspects of this matter.  As we drive through the countryside this month, surely 
> we enjoy the beauty of blue Chicory flowers and white Queen Anne's Lace that 
> line our roadsides.  And yet, neither of these plants is native to this 
> continent, and both can be considered invasive under certain circumstances.  
>   Chicory (Cichorium intybus) has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years 
> for medicinal and culinary properties, some of which are still recognized today. 
>  The name, chicory, is thought to be of Egyptian origin, and with only minor 
> variations, has been absorbed into virtually every European language. The 
> other name of chicory, endive is derived from another ancient Eastern name, 
> hendibeh.  Yes, both types of endive; the rather rough bitter greens we pronounce to 
> rhyme with "dive", and the fancy, expensive, blanched, tightly-wrapped, heads 
> we pronounce in the French fashion as "ahn-deeve" are varieties of chicory.
>   Early Greeks and Romans enjoyed chicory both as a vegetable and as a salad 
> ingredient.  Charlemagne demanded that chicory be planted in his gardens, and 
> the French drank a coffee-like brew of the root before coffee itself was 
> introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century.
>   Queen Elizabeth I drank a broth made from chicory, though it was not much 
> planted in England in her day.  
>   Thomas Jefferson considered chicory "a tolerable sallad for the table."  He 
> raised his chicory from seeds it is believed he imported from Italy.  In 
> 1795, he recommended the plant to fellow farmer, George Washington, as a fine 
> cattle fodder.  
>   To this day, in some parts of Europe and the American South the favorite 
> coffee contains a blend of chicory.  One author notes that chicory is never a 
> coffee substitute - it's a coffee flavorer. Fine chefs in New Orleans consider a 
> 10% chicory blend to be optimal, but in the bayou country, a 25% blend is 
> favored.  To obtain this, the root is dried and ground, and really looks just 
> like coffee.  However, although it contains 10 of the 24 chemical ingredients of 
> coffee, it has no caffeine.
>   In addition to chicory's use as a vegetable, for which it is extensively 
> grown in Belgium, chicory has a long history of medicinal uses, especially for 
> problems of the liver.  It has also been credited with sharpening the appetite, 
> relieving urinary infections and ridding the body of impurities.  A decoction 
> of the root was long considered beneficial to diabetics, as it lowers 
> blood-sugar levels.  It was also recommended to relieve arthritis and gout, and as a 
> treatment for jaundice.
>   And finally, we may add the brilliant blue blossoms to our list of edible 
> flowers.  They make a colorful addition to salads if picked early in the day, 
> but they are morning-bloomers and fade with the passage of the day.  There is 
> an early-seventeenth century recipe for a conserve of chicory flowers which was 
> sometimes used in the treatment of tuberculosis.
>   These versatile and useful plants may be cultivated in the garden, but they 
> also freely adorn our roadsides, often accompanied by the delicate white 
> discs of wild carrot, Daucus carota or Queen Anne's Lace.  This member of the 
> Umbellifera or Parsley family bears the same botanical name as the cultivated 
> carrot.  Like chicory, carrots have been cultivated since the earliest times 
> throughout the Mediterranean basin.  The word carota, was used by both early Greeks 
> and Romans, and modern Greeks still call the carrot karoto.  
>   Carrots were not introduced to the British Isles until the reign of 
> Elizabeth I, when it was brought by Protestant Flemings fleeing their homeland to 
> escape religious persecution by Philip II of Spain.  Fashionable ladies quickly 
> adopted the delicate leaves and flowers to adorn their headdresses. It was a 
> favorite of Queen Anne, but it is not clear how the legend developed that 
> credits the single dark red floret in the center of each flower-head to a drop of 
> the monarch's blood when she pricked her finger while making lace.  
>    Although both wild and cultivated carrots are rich sources of vitamin A, 
> and have been valued for their antiseptic and other medicinal properties since 
> ancient times, the wild ones are considered medicinally superior.  All parts 
> of the plant are used, and the list of conditions for which it is beneficial is 
> extensive.  
>    A pulp of the freshly-grated root is used to treat all sorts of skin 
> diseases.  A decoction of the roots is recommended as a remedy for coughs, asthma, 
> flatulence, stomach ulcers, kidney stones, and to improve night vision.
>    In France, studies have indicated that drinking a wineglassful of fresh 
> juice of the roots promotes immunity to upper respiratory infections.
>   The green leaves, macerated in honey, provide a soothing treatment for open 
> sores and ulcers.
>   Even the little red floret has been credited with medicinal virtues.  
> Chewing it was believed to prevent epileptic seizures.
>   Given all these virtues, should we not be thankful that we have been 
> invaded by these aliens? T
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