Chicory (Cichorium intybus), is closely related to endive (Cichorium endive) and dandelion. Chicory leaves, known as chicons or witlof ('white leaf') are traditionally used as a vegetable. Its roots may be roasted and used as an additive in coffee manufacturing.
Production of witlof is a major industry in western Europe where witlof shoots are forced from the roots of chicory by blanching and are used in salads. They are served raw, chopped in salads or lightly boiled/steamed. They contain good levels of vitamin C and the flavour is slightly bitter.
Witlof is produced in Australia throughout the year but few consumers are familiar with it. Supplies are available from hydroponic growers in Victoria.
Witlof is expensive to grow as it is a two-stage crop.
Seed is first direct-sown in the field to produce parsnip-type roots which are then dug up and re-grown under special conditions to produce a single witlof from each root.