Endive (Cichorium endiva) and escarole (Cichorium species) are members of the Asteraceae (Daisy) Family and native to Eurasia and northern Africa. Colonists brought the plants to North America and Thomas Jefferson, amongst others, grew it as a forage crop.
Endive is a green with narrow curled, finely divided leaves. Escarole is another name for an endive with broader, less curly leaves. They are both close relatives of chicory and fairly bitter greens. It is the inner leaves that are more yellow that are enjoyed in salads. The inner and outer leaves however, can both be used.
Endive and Escarole are therapeutic for the heart, gall bladder and liver. The bitter flavor stimulates digestive secretions. They help rid the body of infection, stimulate bile production and increase the appetite. Endive and escarole have been used in traditional medicine to remedy acidosis, arthritis, asthma, candida, constipation, diabetes, edema, gas, gout, hypertension, hypoglycemia, jaundice, liver enlargement, obesity, rheumatism, and inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, boils, and eczema. Their properties include being diuretic, laxative and tonic. They are traditionally eaten in the spring as a “blood purifiers.” They are considered nourishing to the eyes and exciting to the central nervous system. They are cool and moist. The leaves are used as a poultice for inflammation, abscesses and boils.
Endive and Escarole are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Mix endive and escarole in with other milder salad greens.
The wild chicory, (Cichorium intybus) is a common edible blue wildflower. The Swedish botanist, Linnaeus used chicory in his floral clock, as the flowers open and close with such regularity.