The black salsify or Spanish salsify, also known as black
oyster plant, serpent root, and viper's grass, is a perennial
member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), cultivated as
a root vegetable.
has heads of yellow ray flowers. The thin black taproot grows up to one meter
long and up to 2 cm in diameter. It has a black skin with white internal substance.
black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the
As is indicated by its binomial name, it is generally
thought to have spread to the rest of Europe from Spain.The name of the genus Scorzonera
probably derives from the Old French word scorzon,
meaning snake. The Celtic and Germanic peoples are believed
to have eaten the black salsify, which was considered efficaceous against the
bubonic plague and snake bites
until the 16th century. The plant was
being cultivated as a vegetable in Italy and France by 1660, however, and soon after, the
growing vast fields of it.
salsify is considered nutritious: it contains proteins, fats, the glycosides asparagine,
choline und laevulin,
as well as minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B1, E and C. Since
it also contains the glycoside inulin, which consists of fructose, it is
particularly suitable for diabetics.
thick black skin of the salsify root is inedible and must be removed either prior
to or after boiling. If the skin is removed
prior to boiling, the peeled root should be immediately immersed in water mixed
with vinegar and flour, in order to prevent discolouring. Since the root sap is
extremely sticky, it is often more convenient to peel it after boiling the root
for 20 to 25 minutes.
salsify is often eaten together with other vegetables, such as peas and carrots. But it is also popular
in a white sauce,
such as bechamel sauce or mustard
sauce. Boiled salsify roots may also be coated with batter and deep fried.
France and the Netherlands are the world's
largest producers of black salsify.