False chicory (Crepis vesicaria)

The Crepis vesicaria is a herbaceous plant native species of Micronesia, part of Western and Central Europe and the Mediterranean basin and the plant is annual, biennial or perennial. Under favorable general conditions, this herb can grow up to 1.20 meters in height, the stem can be arched or erect and has a good number of branches in most cases, but these are scarcer at the terminal end.


This species of Crepis has basal leaves organized in rosettes, they are petiolate and provided with rough and hard hairs, also lirada to pinnatisects, they have 5 to 7 serrated lobes and also have smaller stem leaves than the previous and seated ones.

Its flowers of a lively yellow color are characterized by being grouped in racemose inflorescences, they are hermaphrodite and actinomorphic. The calyx is made up of 4 erect sepals, 4 free petals arranged in a cross form the cream-colored corolla in which purplish nerves are observed.

Flowering occurs between February and June, while Crepis vesicaria fruits appear as erect siliques containing beveled grains. The insects are called to carry out the pollination of the flowers where the hermaphrodite reproductive units are located.

Habitat of the Crepis vesicaria

It grows naturally on the roadsides, in dry fields, uncultivated rustic land, meadows, etc. This species tends to develop favorably when the soils are of acid, alkaline, very alkaline or neutral PH. Substrates with a sandy, clayey or loamy consistency are ideal for the underground zone of the plant to grow abundantly and strongly, even when they remain dry for long periods.

When it is grown at home, attention must be paid to the form of irrigation depending on the type of soil, in this sense it is necessary to maintain adequate levels of humidity which must be permanent and in accordance with the soil, environmental conditions, temperatures or exposure to the direct sun. The Crepis vesicaria is very flexible regarding its lighting needs as it supports both direct sun exposure and semi-shade.

Uses of the plant

If we talk about ornamental uses, the false chicory is very useful to form green walls on a fence or support, providing a more private environment or to separate one space from another. Likewise, this herb is attributed some properties that are beneficial in medicinal matters, the most useful parts being the leaves and seeds.

The main components are the essential oil and glucosinolates specifically 3: glucoerucine, glucoraphanin and gluconasturtin, all of them present in leaves and seeds. In particular, the leaves contain trace elements, fiber, low amounts of tryptophan, provitamin A and vitamin C, while the oil of the seeds has between 19% and 21% of oil that is composed of eicosenoic, palmitic, linoleic, oleic and erucic acid 45%.

Medicinal properties

The leaf consumed in good quantities and raw serves to stimulate the production of urine, to treat kidney stones, edema, anemia, weakness, asthenia and loss of appetite. Its tryptophan content is said to help boost libido. It is also effective to treat dyspepsia, overweight, rheumatism, fluid retention, protects the liver and is ideal for use in cleansing diets.

The seeds consumed in small doses are used to eradicate intestinal worms, stimulate the appetite. The leaves are used both in infusions, as in meals and juices, the seeds in infusions but always in very small quantities since in large doses they are toxic. It is important that after harvest they are stored for at least six months before using them.

The leaves that are consumed are the tender basal ones, which are collected in autumn and winter as long as they are very tender. Minced pieces are added to salads, soups or sauces since they are very rich in mineral salts and vitamin C and provide a spicy taste. The flowers, seeds and young seed pods are also edible, germinated are ideal for salads, crushed and prepared seeds replace mustard.

Crepis vesicaria is a species that is very popular and natural in much of Europe, it usually blooms in coastal meadows of the Asturian and Gozón regions at the beginning of spring, however, the flowering comes a little later in the interior areas.. The plant has become a rich source of food for caterpillars, and a great variety of birds enjoy feeding on its seeds.

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