EDIT: When I sent this through, LJ was having problems. It looks like it ate half the post, including the articles I'd already looked at. The questions are in reference to fresh, unprocessed
chicory for use as a coffee substitute and/or medicinal. I'm aware it grows in North America and that the roasted root is used to make coffee substitute but I'm needing to know if it would be found growing wild in the southwest in February. These are the articles I checked:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicoryhttp://coffeetea.about.com/cs/coffeesubstitutes/a/chicory.htmhttp://healing.about.com/od/flowerprofiles/p/chicory.htm
(New Age properties but no hard medicinal data)http://italianfood.about.com/library/weekly/aa091698.htm
(talks only about use in salads; I don't think in February that would be pertinent, even if that type did chance to grow there)http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/wildseed/23/23.1.html
(cultivation crop information, very brief, and does not tell what areas of North America the wild plant is found in. I would presume, since it's a Texas site that it might be found in similar terrain in New Mexico, which is where the story takes place, but it still doesn't tell me what type of terrain)http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/chicor61.html
(this came closest to answering my questions but the article pertains to Europe only and there is but one sentence about the fresh root and it's not very helpful)http://www.sweetmarias.com/coffee.other.chicory.html
(New Orleans coffee blends, not what I needed at all)
No references to the southwest or whether or not it would grow in the winter or whether the fresh root can be used in that area.http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/vegetables/chicory.html(vegetable
information, domestic cultivation only)http://www.aces.edu/dept/forages/forchic.html
(use in Alabama as forage for cattle)
The remaining hits, which decrease in relevance as I go through them were about a Java application and a feminist press.
I added the keyword "southwest" to "chicory" and the articles which came up were about the wildflowers and its presence as a noxious weed:http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/Blue%20Purple%20Enlarged%20Photo%20Pages/cichorium%20intybus.htm
(This may not even be the same plant, as no mention is made of using the root for beverages; it suggests that it grows in low foothill elevations but doesn't define the terrain. "Low" is relative; here in Florida that's only a few feet above sea level. Out there it can mean anything from 4000-8000 feet).
I'm worried about the alkalai content of the root because the southwestern herbal I have cautions that even plants which may not typically contain alkalais can poison someone if the roots are used and grow in soil which is alkaline in nature. The area in which the story takes place borders on some alkalai flats (and this is a common problem throughout the Southwest).
Google failed me on this.
I know chicory was and is used as a coffee substitute but I haven't been able to find out the following information:
- what part is used?
- how is it processed?
- would it grow wild?
- when is it harvested?
- would it be found in the southwest growing wild, either through introduction or as a native plant?
- would the part that makes the beverage be usable even if it were harvested in the winter?
- just how DO you make a coffee-like beverage with it anyhow?
They're out of supplies and I was about to posit that one of the characters had found the chicory and made a beverage with it using water from the stream and the plant heated over a fire...then I realized that I didn't even know if the scenario was possible.
ETA: Thanks, whoever gave me that link to the USDA plant database. I never would have found it because I'm not a botanist or biologist. According to the distribution maps, the plant IS NOT found in northeast New Mexico. In fact, there's a nice wide corridor of chicory-free counties all around the area in which my story is set.