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Witloof chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a weedy-looking plant. That’s not surprising, as it’s related to the dandelion and has frilly, pointed dandelion-like leaves. What is surprising is that witloof chicory plants have a double life. This same weed-like plant is responsible for the production of chicons, a bittersweet winter salad green, which is a culinary delicacy in the U.S. What is Witloof Chicory? Witloof chicory is an herbaceous biennial, which was grown centuries ago as a cheap substitute for coffee. Like the dandelion, witloof grows a large taproot. It was this taproot that European farmers grew, harvested, stored and ground as their knock-off java. Then about two hundred years ago, a farmer in Belgium made a startling discovery. The witloof chicory roots he’d stored in his root cellar had sprouted. But they didn’t grow their normal dandelion-like leaves. Instead, the chicory roots grew a compact, pointed head of leaves much