Chicory - Cichorium intybus

Photo Credit: Lea Chambers

This taprooted perennial produces a milky juice and may grow to 2 metres in height. The low growing rosette leaves resemble dandelion but are hairy while the blue flowers (which may be pink or white) usually close by midday. The leaves may be used in a salad and roots when dried are often used as a coffee substitute. Early settlers were the first to discover this trick. The plant and flowers are quite coarse and early in its development, before the flowers bloom, the plant appears spindly and ragged. It will grow almost anywhere but favours poorer sandy or rocky soils which are devoid of a lot of moisture. Its success as a plant can best be measured by its ability to adapt to even the most harsh conditions. Splice a gene from this plant and meld it to wheat and it very well might be possible to grow grain crops in semi-arid conditions.

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