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TRAGOPOGON porrifolius

Image of Tragopogon porrifolius

Michael Charters, www.calflora.net

Family

Asteraceae

Botanical Name

TRAGOPOGON porrifolius

Plant Common Name

General Description

Grown mostly for its edible root, salsify is also cultivated for its greens and pretty flowers. A common wildflower in the Mediterranean, and an introduced weed in much of the rest of the temperate world, this biennial has long been popular in European vegetable gardens.

First-year plants form dense rosettes of long, tender, grass-like leaves with milky sap. The leaves are good in salads. The long, creamy-white, parsnip-like tap root matures 4 or 5 months after germination. Unharvested plants flower their second spring and summer, producing solitary rose-purple, daisy-like blooms on tall stems. Young flower shoots can be eaten like asparagus. Large, downy seedheads follow the flowers. Plants often self-sow.

Grow salsify as you would many other root crops, in full sun and deep, fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Some shade is tolerated. In areas with cold winters, sow in spring after the soil warms, and harvest in fall. Seeds are slow to germinate. In warmer zones, sow in fall. Salsify will withstand some frost. Harvest the roots after frost for best flavor. Use the roots raw in salads or cooked in soup, stews or mashes. The cooked roots supposedly taste like oysters, hence another common name, "vegetable oyster."

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Vegetable

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    16"-60" / 40.6cm - 152.4cm

  • Width

    8"-12" / 20.3cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    Mediterranean

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Rose

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes