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the web of life in southern Africa

Cichorium endivia (Endive, Scarole)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Euasterid II > Order: Asterales > Family: Asteraceae > Tribe: Lactuceae > Genus: Cichorium

The leaves of Endive has been used in salads since at least Greek and Roman times. It is similar to Chicory Cichorium intybus but is annual rather than perennial and whereas the leaves of Chicory are usually hairy, those of Endive are hairless. 

There are 3 theories about its origins:

  1. that it originates from Southern Asia and northern China;

  2. that it originates in the eastern Mediterranean as a hybrid between chicory and the wild annual species Cichorium pumilum; or

  3. that it is a cultivated form of Cichorium pumilum, now regarded as a full species.

There are two main varieties of Endive:

  1. var. latifolium (escarole or broadleaf endive). Leaves are broad and slightly toothed.

  2. var. crispum (curly endive). Leaves are dissected and ornate.

However, there is also Belgium endive (called witloof in Belgium and blue sailor in the USA), which is in fact a variety of chicory (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum).

The common names Chicory and Endive are used in the reverse by the French:


Latin name English common name French common name
Cichorium intybus Chicory Endive (referring to the shoots)
Cichorium endivia Endive

Escarole (French in origin but now used mainly in English to refer to the broad-leaved variety)

Chicorée frisée (for cut leaved form)

Scarole (for broad-leaved variety)

 Endive is not commonly eaten in southern Africa.


  • Phillips, R. & Rix, M. 1993. Vegetables. Pan Books, London.

  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.