Biological Name:

Tragopogon spp. (Salsify)

Natural Habitat:

Salsify: Grasslands, North America


Salsify is a biennial or perennial weed with long tapering leaves and purple or white flowers. It typically grows to be about 2-3 feet tall and can be found in fields meadows and waste areas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What does salsify taste like?
A: Salsify (Sahl-seh-fee) is known as the oyster plant or oyster vegetable. These giant pencils are members of the dandelion family, a Mediterranean plant with a delicate taste, ever so slightly sweet, some say slightly reminiscent of oyster. Many liken it to an artichoke instead, however.

Q: Does salsify grow in the US?
A: Purple salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) is a flowering plant that’s commonly found in the Western and Northeast US. Purple salsify grows similarly to other root vegetables like parsnips and carrots, and is found in the wild, and is cultivated for its roots.

Q: Is burdock root the same as salsify?
A: Is burdock the same as salsify? In short no, burdock and salsify are not the same thing. But they are very similar in appearance and taste, and more often than not, they can be use interchangeably. Salsify is said to have a more subtle taste, whereas burdock has been described as, “root-ier.”””

Q: What the heck is salsify?
A: So what, exactly, is salsify? Tragopogon porrifolius is a long, thin root vegetable that’s a member of the dandelion family. It looks similar to a medium or large carrot or parsnip.

Q: Does salsify taste like parsnip?
A: The roots taste nothing like oysters, and nothing like parsnips either. They taste like artichoke hearts — unlike the so-called Jerusalem artichokes that are said to taste like artichokes but don’t. This is a great two-in-one crop.

Q: What is another name for salsify?
A: salsify, (Tragopogon porrifolius), also called oyster plant or vegetable oyster, biennial herb of the family Asteraceae, native to the Mediterranean region. The thick white taproot is cooked as a vegetable and has a flavour similar to that of oysters.

Q: Does salsify give you gas?
A: Especially the high proportion of inulin makes it so valuable for our intestines. But inulin is also exactly why the salsify promotes flatulence. And this is the case for all those who have a sensitive stomach or irritable bowel syndrome.

Q: What part of salsify is edible?
A: The entire plant is edible when young and the root is eaten after maturing. Young roots are eaten raw in salads, or are boiled, baked, and sautéed once mature. They are added to soups or are grated and made into cakes. The flower buds and flowers are added to salads or preserved by pickling.

Q: Where is salsify commonly found?
A: Common salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) is an edible flower and root native to Europe and Africa. Common salsify is also called the oyster plant and the vegetable oyster. this plant can be grown alongside parsnips and carrots and requires the same type of planting and growing conditions.

Q: Is salsify the same as dandelion?
A: Yellow salsify (Tragopodon dubius) has greyish, narrow leaves (vs dandelion’s wider green ones), and a much broader flower and larger seed head than dandelion (it’s like a regular dandelion ate a Super Mario mushroom). It is an annual (or, occasionally, biennial).

Q: How do you eat salsify?
A: Young salsify roots can be eaten raw if sliced thinly or grated, but more commonly both types of salsify are boiled, steamed, fried, baked or pureed into soups. Salsify pairs well with dairy (like butter, cream and cheese) and with strong herbs and flavorings (think garlic, onions), as well as with pork and chicken.

Q: Is salsify plant invasive?
A: Found in 45 states – all but Hawaii, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina – Yellow Salsify is considered an invasive weed in many areas, although apparently with little negative economic impact. The taproot is edible, and is reported to be the reason it was imported into the United States.

Q: Does salsify need to be peeled?
A: Just like black salsify, common salsify can be used as a root vegetable; it does not even need to be peeled. It tastes delicious when steamed, roasted, deep-fried or made into purée or soup. The plant also tastes delicious raw, for example in a raw vegetable salad.

Q: What is salsify used for?
A: Salsify is best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, roasting, sautéing, steaming, frying, and baking. Before cooking, the skin should be peeled and to preserve the color of the white flesh, the root can be submerged in water with lemon juice or vinegar.

Q: How do you cook with salsify?
A: Put freshly peeled salsify into a solution of water and lemon juice to stop it browning. It can be cubed and added to soups and stews; I boiled my salsify and mashed it like parsnips, with a little cream, butter, salt and pepper. Some chefs cook the vegetable in a mixture of milk and water for a richer flavour.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.