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Batavia Cichorium endivia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
si-KOR-ee-um EN-daiv
Description

Endives are an important bitter-tasting salad green in Europe but less well known in this country. There are two distinct varieties of this plant.  Curly endive (var. crispum) and escarole (var. latifolium) are both chicories of the same species which produce a rosette of leaves forming a loose head.  Endive has curled fringed leaves while escarole leaves are smooth, broad and less bitter than endive.

Grow endive and escarole after danger of frost in full sun, well-drained pH 5.5-8.3 soil that retains moisture.  The growth period of the plant is about 70-100 days. Endives are more tolerant of high temperatures than lettuce but grow best at temperatures of 60-65 degrees. Both types may bolt and flower with short days and cool weather.  Escarole can tolerate a mild frost once established.

The natural bitterness may be reduced by blanching the plant before harvest to slow the production of chlorophyll which causes the bitter flavor.  Some ways to blanch include pulling the outer leaves over the head and tie during dry conditions to prevent inner leaf rotting or cover each plant with a container to exclude light for several weeks before harvest.  Somewhat self-blanching varieties are available.

This plant may be confused with the Chicory, Belgian Endive, or Radicchio, a different species of the same genus which has a small, tightly packed, cylindrical head.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. crispum
    Narrow, curly, dark green outer leaves with creamy yellow center forming a loose head Curly Endive
  • var. latifolium
    Broad, rather flat leaves forming a loose head with a creamy yellow center Escarole
var. crispum, var. latifolium
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#blue flowers#edible garden#cool season vegetable#spring greens
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • var. crispum
    Narrow, curly, dark green outer leaves with creamy yellow center forming a loose head Curly Endive
  • var. latifolium
    Broad, rather flat leaves forming a loose head with a creamy yellow center Escarole
var. crispum, var. latifolium
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#blue flowers#edible garden#cool season vegetable#spring greens
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cichorium
    Species:
    endivia
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Mediterranean, India
    Edibility:
    Leaves are edible raw or cooked. Blue flowers are used raw in a salad, as a garnish or pickled.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 10 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 10 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is obovoid to cylindrical in shape and slightly ribbed.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Self-pollinating, attractive, pale blue flowers are on stems that rise well above the foliage. The flowers usually open up in the morning hours only.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    White
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cuneate
    Lanceolate
    Oblanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Entire
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    There is one leaf per node along the stem. The base of the leaf blade is cuneate with an oblanceolate leaf blade. One main vein runs from the base to the tip of the leaf blade. The leaf margins are quite variable even on the same plant. Both curly endive and escarole leaves are white to light green in the center to dark green at the outside of the rosette. Endive leaves are shaggy, thin and have much smaller leaves compared to escarole.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The plant has one or more free-standing green to reddish-brown stems. The stem is hairy near the base only.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden