- A perennial dandelion-like plant, Cichorium intybus, with bitter green leaves. The conical roots are trimmed and have the leaves cut off 2 cm above the crown and are then forced to produce white, yellow-tipped, compact, leafy shoots up to 15 cm long by 5 cm diameter, known as chicons, which are in season from January to March. They can be cooked as a vegetable or eaten raw in salads. The roots have been used as a coffee substitute and when young can be boiled as a root vegetable. The flowers and seedlings of the unforced plant can be used in salads.