Related entries: Taraxacum
The root of Cichorium Intybus, Linné.
COMMON NAMES: Chicory, Succory, Wild succory.
ILLUSTRATION: Johnson's Med. Bot., Fig. 138.
Botanical Source.—Chicory is a perennial plant, having a spindle-shaped, fleshy, whitish, and milky root. The stem is solid, round, furrowed, hispid, very tough, growing 2 or 3 feet high. The radical leaves are spreading, above a span long, numerous, runcinate, toothed, and roughish. The cauline leaves smaller, sessile, less lobed, the uppermost cordate, acuminate, and entire. The flowers are large, 1 or 2 inches in diameter, axillary, in pairs, sessile, placed rather remote on the long, rather naked branches, and of a beautiful bright-blue color. Corollas flat and 5-toothed; involucre roughish; anthers and stigma blue (L.—W.).
History.—Chicory is a native of Europe, but cultivated in this country, where it grows in grass-fields and along roadsides, bearing large, elegant blue flowers in July and August. The root is quite bitter, and imparts its virtues to water. The young leaves are used as a salad. The plant is extensively cultivated for its root, which is used as a substitute for coffee, or for adulterating it; it is dried, roasted, and ground. J. L. Lassaigne states that an infusion of pure coffee acquires a more or less intense green color, when some drops of a solution of persulphate of iron are added to it; while an infusion of chicory retains its brownish color, becoming more intense with a greenish tint. Mr. Horsley proposed bichromate of potassium as a test. It produces no coloration with an infusion of chicory, but gradually changes the weakest infusion of coffee to a deep porter-brown color. When the two infusions are mixed, boil the mixture with the bichromate, add a few grains of sulphate of copper, and again boil. A flocculent precipitate is formed, of a more or less deep sepia-brown color, the intensity of which varies with the quantity of coffee contained. It is sometimes used as an adulterant of dandelion root.
Chemical Composition.—Besides the usual vegetable constituents, this root consists of more than one-third inulin (C12H20O10), a fine, white, tasteless, and odorless powder, obtained chiefly by expression of the grated roots of various composite plants (see Inula). A very pure and pleasantly aromatic alcohol may be obtained from chicory root after the inulin has been converted into sugar by means of the mineral acids. A bitter glucosid, having the formula C32H34O19, was obtained in colorless crystals from the flowers by Nietzki, in 1876. Alcohol and hot water dissolve it freely, while it is not soluble in ether. Sugar, pectin, and a bitter principle, not yet isolated, also exist in the root. The leaves yield a bitter body, albuminoids, sugar, and salts.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Tonic, diuretic, and laxative. The decoction, used freely, is said to have proved efficient in jaundice, engorgement of the liver, and other chronic visceral diseases, as well as in cutaneous eruptions, gout, hectic fever, etc. An ounce of the root to a pint of water forms a good decoction. It is used as an adulterant of coffee.
Related Species.—Cichorium Endivia, Linné. Garden endive, a native of the Mediterranean countries, is said, by some French physicians, to be a remedy for jaundice. It is also cultivated and eaten as a salad.