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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Endive (Cichorium Endivia). Compositae. A leaf- salad plant. See Cichorium.

Until recently endive has been almost unknown in American home gardens, but it is gradually receiving favor with salad-lovers. Although more frequently a product of the amateur, during August and September, and possibly later, it is now freely offered in the larger markets. It is especially the people of foreign descent who grow, buy and use endive. In the hot weather of summer and fall, when lettuce plants are more likely to produce seed-stalks than good solid heads, endive, although of somewhat bitter flavor when unbleached, makes a good and acceptable substitute for lettuce as a salad plant. In the unbleached state it may even be used for "greens."

The requirements as to culture are simple, as the plant succeeds well on any ordinary well-enriched garden soil. Seed may be sown in the open ground as early as June, and as late as August, the rows to be a foot apart and the plants to be thinned early to a foot apart in the row; or seed may be started in flats and the young seedlings transplanted to open ground. The latter is the better way when the ground is very dry. In extreme cases, it may be advisable for the home gardener to grow his seedlings in flats and pot them off in thumb-pots to become well rooted. This gives a chance to grow good plants, while waiting for a rain to moisten the open ground. To be tender, the plants should be forced into strong and succulent growth by high feeding and the free use of the hoe. It is a waste of effort to plant endive on poor land that is deficient in humus, or naturally dry and exposed.

The originally bitter flavor becomes pleasant and acceptable when the leaves or hearts are well blanched. The blanching is accomplished by tying the outer leaves over the heart with bast (Fig. 1395), or by placing a big flower-pot over each plant, or by setting boards, say 10 inches wide, on edge along each side of the row, in inverted V shape, and in somewhat the same fashion as for blanching celery, except that no opening is left on top. The light should be excluded from the hearts as much as possible. In any of these ways endive may be well blanched in about three weeks, and will come out with inner leaves showing a delicate whitish or creamy color, and being crisp, tender and of pleasant flavor.

If to be kept for winter use, sow the seed of Green Curled endive in August, or set the plants early in September; then take up the full-grown but as yet unblanched plants with a ball of earth adhering to the roots, and store them in a root-cellar as is done with celery. If kept in the dark, they will soon bleach and be ready for use.

Green Curled has long been the favorite variety in our markets and gardens. Its narrow curled leaves make the well-blanched plant far more attractive to the eye than the wider and plain leaves of Broad-Leaf. The latter, however, is gaining on the other in both growers' and consumers' favor. This is the only practical difference between the two varieties. The catalogues of European seedsmen list and describe several additional varieties, such as the Moss Curled and Rouen, none of which is often met with in American gardens. A few fungi and the spinach insects sometimes attack the plant. T. Greiner.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

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Escarole endive
Escarole endive
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Genus: Cichorium
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Species: C. endivia
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Binomial name
Cichorium endivia
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Belgian endive
Belgian endive

Endive (Cichorium endivia) is a variation of the winter leaf vegetable chicory which can be cooked or used in salads, created by growing chicory (or certain similar breeds) until its foliage sprouts, then cutting off the leaves and placing the still-living stem and root in a dark place. They grow a second bud, but without the sunlight it is white and lacks the bitterness of the normal chicory bud.

The technique for growing endives was accidentally discovered in the 1830s in the Josaphat valley in Schaerbeek, Belgium. Today France is the largest producer of endives.

Endives are part of the genus Cichorium, made up of bitter leaf vegetables. It is divided between Cichorium endivia and Cichorium intybus. The former includes Chicory, Belgian endive (witloof), Radicchio and Puntarelle. Endive is rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially in folate and vitamin A and K, and is high in fiber.

There are three main varieties of endive: Frisée, curly endive and escarole.

Curly endive (sometimes mistakenly called chicory in the United States) has green, rimmed, curly outer leaves.

Frisée has finely cut, frizzy leaves.

Escarole has broad, pale green leaves and is less bitter than the other varieties.

Chicory has prominent stems and leaves.

Belgian endive (also known as French endive and as witlo(o)f, the Dutch language term; in Australia, it is similarly known as witlof; in France it is called endive and in Francophone parts of Belgium and some parts of Northern France called chicon) has a small head of cream-coloured bitter leaves. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight, a process that prevents the leaves from turning green and opening up (etiolation). This is extensive manual work, as the plant has to be kept just below the dirt surface as it grows, only showing the very tip of the leaves. It is often sold wrapped in blue paper to protect it from the light’s harm and preserve its delicate flavor and pale coloring. Its smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw. Slightly bitter, the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste; the harder inner part at the bottom needs to be cut out before cooking to prevent bitterness.

Belgium exports chicon/witloof to over 40 different countries.[1]

Radicchio has red leaves.

Puntarelle has narrow stems and leaves.


  1. 'Jeannie Bastian'. It Ain’t Chicken. Accessed November 15 2006.

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