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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Scorzonera hispanica
Alternative Names: Spanish salsify, black oyster plant, Scorzonera

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Scorzonera hispanica


  • Perennial
  • Black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the Near East and it is mainly an European crop.
  • It is a hardy perennial with a rosette of oblong, hairy leaves growing from a fleshy black taproot.
  • The thin black taproot grows up to one meter long and up to 2 centimetres (0.8 in) in diameter.
  • It has a black skin with white internal flesh.
  • In summer a sparsely, leafy flowering stalk emerges bearing yellow dandelion-like flowers.
  • It can grow in any soil in sun or light shade.

Culinary Uses

  • Scorzonera is cultivated for its edible root, said to taste like asparagus.
  • The roots are scraped or peeled, sliced into sections and then cooked, steamed or sautéed and served with white meat dishes.
  • Cooked and pureed root may be coated with flour and deep-fried to make salsify fritters.
  • Black salsify is often eaten together with other vegetables, such as peas and carrots.
  • Can be served like asparagus in a white sauce, such as bechamel sauce, mustard sauce or hollandaise sauce.
  • The tender young shoots and leaves may be added to salads in early spring.
  • Flower petals have their own distinctive flavour and can also be added to salads.

Parts Used

  • The whole plant is edible.
  • Roots may be harvested at the end of the first year.
  • They are quite fragile, and broken material loses freshness.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • Black salsify is considered nutritious: it contains proteins, fats, asparagine, choline, laevulin, as well as minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B1, E and C.
  • The roots also contains inulin instead of starch as storage carbohydrate.
  • When digested it yields fructose and not glucose and is therefore ideally suited for use by diabetics.
  • It has a mild sweetness that is suitable for diabetics
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff
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