Succory





The Wild Succory (Cichorium intybus) is a common roadside

English plant, white or blue, belonging to the Composite order, and

called also Turnsole, because it always turns its flowers towards the

sun.



It blows with a blue blossom somewhat paler than the Cornflower,

but bearing a golden heart.



Its fresh root is bitter, and a milky juice flows from the rind, which

is somewhat aperient and slightly sedative, so that this specially

suits persons troubled with bilious torpor, and jaundice combined

with melancholy. An infusion of the herb is useful for skin eruptions

connected with gout. If the root and leaves are taken freely, they

will produce a gentle diarrhoea, their virtue lying chiefly in the

milky juice; and on good authority the plant has been pronounced

useful against pulmonary consumption. In Germany it is called

Wegwort, or waiting on the way. The Syrup of Succory is an

excellent laxative for children.



The Succory or Cichorium was known to the Romans, and was

eaten by them as a vegetable, or in salads. Horace writes (Ode

31):



Me pascunt olivae,

Me chicorea, levesque malvae.



[542] And Virgil, in his first Georgic, speaks of Amaris intuba

fibris. When cultivated it becomes large, and constitutes Chicory,

of which the taproot is used extensively in France for blending with

coffee, being closely allied to the Endive and the Dandelion.



This is the Chicoree frisee when bleached, or the Barbe de

Capucin. The cortical part of the root yields a milky saponaceous

juice which is very bitter and slightly sedative. Some writers

suppose the Succory to be the Horehound of the Bible. In the

German story, The Watcher of the Road, a lovely princess,

abandoned for a rival, pines away, and asking only to die where she

can be constantly on the watch, becomes transformed into the

wayside Succory.



This Succory plant bears also the name of Rostrum porcinum. Its

leaves, when bruised, make a good poultice for inflamed eyes, being

outwardly applied to the grieved place. Also the leaves when boiled

in pottage or broths for sick and feeble persons that have hot, weak,

and feeble stomachs, do strengthen the same.



It is said that the roots, if put into heaps and dried, are liable to

spontaneous combustion. The taproot of the cultivated plant is

roasted in France, and mixed with coffee, to which, when infused, it

gives a bitterish taste and a dark colour.



The chemical constituents of Succory and Chicory are--in addition

to those ordinarily appertaining to vegetables--inulin, and a special

bitter principle not named.



Chicory, when taken too habitually or too freely, causes venous

passive congestion in the digestive organs within the abdomen, and

a fulness of blood in the head. Both it and Succory, if used in excess

as a medicine, will bring about amaurosis, or loss of visual power in

[543] the retina of the eyes. Therefore, when given in a much

diluted form they are remedial for these affections.



The only benefit of quality which Chicory gives to coffee is by

increase of colour and body, with some bitterness, but not by

possessing any aroma, or fragrant oil, or stimulating virtue. French

writers say it is contra-stimulante, and serving to correct the

excitation caused by the active principles of coffee, and therefore it

suits sanguineo-bilious subjects who suffer from habitual tonic

constipation. But it is ill adapted for persons whose vital energy

soon flags; and for lymphatic, or bloodless people its use should be

altogether forbidden.



The flowers of Succory used to rank among the four cordial flowers,

and a water was distilled from them to allay inflammation of the

eyes. The seeds contain abundantly a demulcent oil, whilst the

petals furnish a glucoside which is colourless unless treated with

alkalies, when it becomes of a golden yellow.





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