Creeping Vetch (Chodrilla juncea)

The tender leaves are used for salads. In other places they are called sweet chicory, because it has a less bitter taste than chicory. It lives in stony and dry places.

Harvesting: spring


The sweet chicory or alijungera(Chondrilla juncea) is a species of the asteraceae family. It is native to Europe



Biennial or perennial gray-green plant, usually with solitary stems up to 1 m, very branched on top. Lower cauline leaves oblanceolate, very and irregularly toothed, with winged petiole, upper leaves usually small, linear, entire or finely toothed. Yellow capitula about 1 cm in diameter, with 9-12 flowers, numerous in inflorescences of short stalked stalks above. Involucre 9-12 mm, with linear-lanceolate, glabrous or tomentose bracts. Achenes with slender beak half the length of the achene. It flowers in summer.

It is a ruderal plant, growing in meadows, roadsides, and arvense, appearing in rainfed cereal crops. It was formerly used in Castile and Aragon to make brooms to sweep the threshing floors. For this purpose, they were cut when they were high, before mowing the cereal, and were left to dry in bunches. Once they were well dried, they were moistened in water so that they could be tied and shaped.
The tender shoots were also used for salads.
Its use as a wild vegetable is widespread throughout the central and eastern peninsular. The plant is consumed raw in the field or in salads in Aragón, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Comunidad Valenciana, Extremadura, Madrid and Murcia. For raw use, the leaves, tender shoots and, in the past, the stems buried in farmland are used. The leaves are harvested before the flowering stems appear to prevent bitterness, cutting the basal rosette at ground level. The stalks buried in the fallow land were harvested when they began to rise to the surface, cutting the subway part with a knife to extract the long, whitish stalk like an asparagus. These were collected when the sown and tilled land was weeded, and were formed when they were buried by the tillage. They are usually prepared in salads seasoned with salt, oil and vinegar, either alone or mixed with other wild herbs such as sorrel, watercress, corujas or dandelion. It was also consumed raw directly in the field, after washing. The leaves have a taste similar to lettuce but slightly more bitter. The blanched stems are milder in flavor, tender and juicy. It is a highly valued vegetable in all regions, especially the stems and tender blanched shoots. According to what was said in a town in Madrid, he has eaten “a lot on a whim and a lot out of necessity”. It is considered a healthy food and snack. The leaves of the basal rosette and the tender stems are also consumed cooked in Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, Valencia and Madrid. In Murcia it is added to vegetable stew, in Aragón it is prepared in marinade and in the Sierra de Segura it is one of the ingredients of “caldo verde”, a stew of wild vegetables cooked and sautéed.

Medicinal use

Circulatory system
In Catalonia, the tender plant has been consumed as a health food. The beneficial effects attributed to it are lowering blood pressure and purifying the blood.

Genito-urinary system
In Cordoba, the consumption of this plant has been registered as an aphrodisiac.

Musculature and skeleton
With the root is prepared in Montseny an oil used to cure abdominal hernias. It is prepared by boiling the root in olive oil and applied externally to the affected area.

Skin and subcutaneous cellular tissue
The roots have been used to heal wounds, urticaria and hangnails for its vulnerary and antiseptic properties. The latex of the roots has been used in Salamanca to cure hangnails or “spigots” of the fingers. The oil from frying the roots can be applied to heal cuts and hives. To prepare it, the roots are washed and cut, fried in olive oil and left to macerate in the oil in a glass jar.

Symptoms and states of undefined origin
In Catalonia the tender plant is consumed in salads to alleviate the lack of vitamins.

Industry and crafts

Tools and utensils
The flowering stems have been used to make brooms in central and eastern Spain, from Castilla y León, Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha to Murcia and the Valencian Community. For this purpose, the aerial part, still green but “cured” (between August and October), is harvested and left to dry in the shade. To make the bushes more flexible, they are soaked for a few hours before tying. Another technique is to “shrimp” the bushes by spreading them on the ground with a weight on top to crush them. To make a broom, several bushes are gathered together and tied tightly with wicker, torvisco (Daphne gnidium L.) or bark from bramble (Rubus spp.) stems. The ajonjera brooms are used to sweep the corrals, the houses or to remove snow from the streets. They were also used to clean the muelo, the parva and to sweep the threshing floor after the threshing. The cleaning of the threshing floor was called “balear” in Valladolid, alluding to the name of this plant. They are very durable brooms that sweep well thanks to their thin stems.