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Radicchio belongs to the botanical family of sunflowers (bot.: Compositae or Asteraceae). There are two different kinds of radicchio, depending on the way they grow. The first is the well known head of radicchio, it is planted in spring and can be harvested until the first frosts in autumn. The second kind does not form closed heads but loose leaf rosettes. Radicchio di Verona is one example for this second kind. It is planted in summer and harvested the next spring. Another species of radicchio is Radicchio di Trevese.

As other chicory varieties, the leaf veins of radicchio contain the bittering agent intybin. If the leaf veins are removed before consumption, it will not taste as bitter but still contain enough intybin, which has a healthy effect on the blood vessels and digestion.

Traditional radicchio varieties are named after the Italian regions where they originate. They can be eaten raw as a salad, grilled or cooked.

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