Plant Name: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Plant Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Scientific Name: Tragopogon porrifolius
Salsify is sometimes called "oyster plant" or "vegetable oyster" because its cooked flavor is similar to oysters. It is also called "goatsbeard", its thin, grassy looking leaves grow in a compact tuft from the crown of the sturdy tap root. The edible part is the long, fleshy, white root.
Salsify is relatively unknown in the United States but is more often used in Europe.
The name "salsify" comes from the French word, salsifis.
The white species is quite different from the black salsify or scorzonera and Spanish salsify. Neither of the latter are cultivated in the United States.
Although the plant was native to the Greek and Roman areas, growing wild in meadows and pastures, it is not generally eaten by the Romans and Greeks.
T. porrifolius was eaten in Germany and France in the 13th century, but was not grown in gardens at that time. Gardeners apparently adopted it at about the end of the 15th century using it both as food and as a decorative plant.
Salsify was introduced into America before the 1880s. It is a slow-growing plant that is particular in its requirements.