Salsify

Have you ever seen or eaten Salsify?

Salsify grows on my allotment site, it self-seeds and pops up in the long grasses on the edges of plots.

Salsify is also known as the Oyster plant for it’s delicate flavoured roots but the flowers and shoots are also edible.

However you grow and use it, everyone seems to agree that as the flowers are so beautiful it is worth growing just for these alone.

I’ve enjoyed the flowers on the plots for the last few weeks, they are nearing their end now – but what a show it has been!

I think they are stunning.

And as I’ve never dug up any of the roots to eat, I leave them to self seed, you will have to follow this link to the Guardian and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes for ideas!

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67 thoughts on “Salsify

  1. Had heard of salsify but never eaten it. Now I see your photos I realise I have seen it (only on the UK), and I agree, it´s beautiful! Wonder if the taste lives up to the way it looks?!

  2. Claire, you continue to educate me. I’ve not heard of salsify but do like the flowers. I would think a nice plot of them would look quite pretty. The fact that re-seed is a big plus in their favor, in my book. Do the re-bloom throughout Summer or are they “one and done” in the Spring? Thanks for today’s lesson. :)

    • Here ends today’s sermon ;)
      John they are biennial, so in the first year they don’t flower, in the second they do and then the show is over so to speak. So I only see them in May/June. But worth the wait!

  3. I carefully tended what I thought was a day lily transplant–a gift from a friend. It was salsify that had come along for the ride. Uh, oh. We have yellow flowers here–never eaten it. Will try that next time.

    • I’ve read about the yellow flowered varieties but not seen them. I understand that Salsify is a close relative of Scorzonera, which I have seeds of, but haven’t got round to sowing them…..

  4. We ate salsify when we were in Holland when I was a kid, but I’ve never seen it in the USA and I’m wondering if it has another name, or is just not here. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what it tastes like, only the name.

    • Hi there, it’s also known as the oyster plant, or goats beard and is a close relative of Scorzonera – which is similar but not identical. Maybe it goes by one of those names. I’ve never tried it but now my curiosity is piqued I want to!

    • Me too! I actually have a packet of Scorzonera that I have never sown, and really should get my act together and sort out. Apparently they are an easy crop to grow, just need plenty of water so they don’t split.

  5. My mother, who eats most every vegetable, will not eat okra (slime), or salsify (don’t know why). Because she doesn’t eat it, I have never had it (I just bought my first rhubarb last week for the same reason). The flowers are beautiful: they look like a cross between bachelor buttons and daisies.

    • Hi Sharyn, I know so many people who won’t touch Okra because it is “slimy” such a shame as I love it, but only when ultra fresh, very young and not over cooked! Looking forward to seeing what you do with the rhubarb :)
      i’d not come across ‘Bachelor’ buttons before, but I see it’s another name for cornflowers – what a lovely name for them

  6. Dear Claire, of course my English language vocabulary is not very rich, so it is normal that I don’t know this plant but when I checked for in my own language, I learned something new… :) I haven’t know this plant before we have a very strange name for this, how I can translate I don’t know but I will try, don’t smile :) Billygoat beard! Your photographs are so nice and showing us how beautiful they are. The colour fascinated me. Thank you dear Claire, have a nice weekend, love, nia

  7. I think somewhere in my memory I have heard of salsify…perhaps I’ve read about it! I know I have never eaten it, but what a beautiful flower! Do you also see it in your produce stores, or is it just something growing wild? It looks like it would be good in a salad :-) Debra

    • Debra I don’t see it in the shops, but maybe I go to the “wrong” shops, maybe it is in the smart farmers markets, but I haven’t seen it sold locally…. yet. But it is definietly cultivated, it’s just on our allotments that it is left to run to seed and flower!

  8. I’ve heard of salsify, but was not familiar with it’s edible properties or beautiful flowers. Goat’s beard is something I’ve considered, but it seems my idea of it is quite a different plant. I think of goat’s beard as a tallish shrub-like plant similar in looks to astilbe, that deer won’t bother, and that will tolerate shade. Am I totally confused? Thanks for another inspiring post!

    • Hi Cindy, hmmm I don’t think you are confused as I know there are different kinds of salsify/goats beard plants – I’ve seen references to yellow flowered ones. I wonder if one of our fellow clever and knowledgable bloggers could help us out on this?

  9. I was given a packet of salsify seeds a long time ago, but never did anything with them…I’d love to find some more, now that I’ve seen the flowers. Haven’t ever tasted them, either, but I would, if given the chance!

    • You know Marie, I feel in good company when you say things like that – I also have some Burdock seeds I’ve never sown!! Too many seeds, not enough land or time. Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it :)

  10. Isn’t it funny how many have heard of it but never seen or tasted it? Myself included. I’ll have to see if it would put up with our climate and give it a try.

    • It would be interesting to see if it did well where you are, from what I’ve read the seeds are easy to germinate, they just need a deep trench to grow into (and not fork) and plenty of water to stop the roots splitting.

  11. Well I seem to be the exception here. I have eaten salsify several times. It seems to be a trendy vegetable in upscale restaurants here in the states. I have also had it in Germany and Austria. It is nice to see what the plant looks like. A very pretty flower…so dainty.

  12. At first I thought of dance.. then my mind jumped to salsa.. now I see it’s a flowering plant! How cool is that? I’d toss this on top of my salads and my friends would be so impressed with me:)

    • Now you have mentioned it I think the colour is kind of Salsa style – lovely purple and alongside a hot red or pink would be perfect! And I’m sure while you salsa’d and made the salad your friends would certainly be impressed :)

  13. HI Claire .. I’ve just recent the most recent newsletter from my (beloved) Swan Lake and the Oyster plant is deemed a weed over here:
    “his month’s invader is Purple Salsify. Also called Oyster plant it is a biennial herb with a carrot like root, sticky sap, and a purple flower that spreads by airborne seeds.
    If you see this giant puff ball, cut it off at the root and put the seeds in the garbage (rather than the compost) to control the spread. ” I can’t copy & past the photo, but it’s the same as your flower.

  14. This is a late comment… but just wanted to tell you, that I have eaten it, and it is a bit sweet, and very edible… but I can’t say I really loved it. Some people add it to other foods for the taste and sweetness. But as we see in your pictures, their beauty alone is enough to justify growing them.

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