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Tragopogon Dubius, Salsify

Yellow Salsify is an interesting exotic. Beginning in Europe, it has since spread across North America. In the 1900's it was introduced in North America as a garden plant. It was raised mainly for food. The roots were prepared similar to carrots, and were cooked up with butter. It wasn't just the root that was prepared. The plants young shoots, flower buds, and stems were considered delicious as well.

The name Salsify comes from the Latin word 'solsequium'. 'Sol' means 'sun' and 'sequens' means 'following'. In essence, the plant follows the sun. The flowers open up in the morning sun only, and close up after noon, because of this the flower gained the nickname "Johnny goes to bed at noon".

Native Americans would chew the stem of the plant which released a milky sap to help indigestion. The Greeks and Romans would soak linens in the distilled juice for bleeding wounds and sores. It was also used as a remedy for the liver and gall bladder. It has a detoxifying effect and may stimulate the appetite and digestion.

All parts of the plant are edible. The stem and seed pods should be eaten young as should the leaves. The flowers can be thrown into soups or salads or sautéed and eaten like asparagus. The root can be eaten raw or cooked but should be cleaned and peeled. Let me know if you have a favorite way to prepare this! I have yet to try it but would like to experiment with it. Some people say it tastes like Oysters (hence it's other nickname Oyster Plant), and others think that is misinformation that has been spread for hundreds of years-and that they taste similar to a root vegetable.

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