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 Tragopogon subsp. var.  Goat's beard
Purple Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius
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Asteraceae > Tragopogon var. ,

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A salsify, or goatsbeard, is a flowering plant in the genus Tragopogon. Tragopogon is in the family Asteraceae and has over 140 species, including the vegetable known as salsify, as well as a number of common wild flowers, some of which are usually regarded as weeds.

Salsifies are forbs growing as biennial or perennial plants. They have a strong taproot and milky sap. They generally have few branches, and those there are tend to be upright. Their leaves are somewhat grass-like. Flower colour varies within the genus, with some yellow species, and some bronze or purple. Seeds are borne in a globe like that of a dandelion but larger, and are dispersed by the wind.

The salsifies are natives of Europe and Asia, but several species have been introduced into North America and Australia and have spread widely there.

Some of the more common species of Tragopogon are known, in the regions where they are most common, by the common names goat's beard, goatsbeard, salsify, or common salsify, without further qualification. These names are therefore inherently ambiguous, and best avoided, or reserved for the genus collectively. In the species list below, the first common name given is the one that seems to be most widely used for that species and is not in significant use for any other species.

The vegetable called salsify is usually the root of purple salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius; the root is described as having the taste of oysters (hence the alternative common name "oyster plant" for some species in this genus), but more insipid with a touch of sweetness. The young shoots of purple salsify can also be eaten, as well as young leaves[1]. Other species are also used in the same way, including the black or Spanish salsify, Scorzonera hispanica, which is closely related though not a member of the genus Tragopogon.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Salsify (formerly sometimes spelled salsafy) is Tragopogon porrifolius, one of the Compositae. A garden esculent, grown for the fleshy root. This root has the flavor of oysters, hence the plant is sometimes called vegetable oyster and oyster plant.

Salsify is perfectly hardy. The seeds (which are really fruits) are sown in early spring, about as soon as the soil can be prepared, in drills where the plants are to stand. The drills may be 2 to 3 feet apart, if tilled by light horse-tools, or half that distance if tilled only by hand. In the rows, the plants are thinned to stand 3 to 6 inches apart. The plant requires the entire season, in the North, in which to grow. The roots may be allowed to remain in the ground until spring, for freezing does not harm them. In fact, they are usually better for being left in the ground, because they do not shrivel and become tough as they often do in storage. If they are kept cool and moist in storage, however, the quality is as good as when the roots remain in the ground. At least a part of the crop should be stored, for the table or the market during winter and early spring.

The plant is biennial. The second spring, a strong stalk 2 to 3 feet tall is sent up from the crown of the root, and in spring or early summer an abundance of light purple flower-heads are produced. The flowers, or heads, close about noon. The leaves are long, linear, and grass-like. The roots are small, well-grown specimens being about 1 foot long and unbranched, and about 2 inches in diameter at the top. The skin is grayish white. Salsify is easy to grow, and it has no serious pests. It is a vegetable of secondary importance commercially, although it should be in every home-garden, particularly in the North, where it thrives best. Eight to ten pounds of seed is sown to the acre. There are few varieties, and these have no marked characteristics except in size. The Mammoth Sandwich Island and Improved French are probably the best varieties. Salsify is native to southern Europe. In some places it has escaped as a weed. See Tragopogon.

Black salsify is Scorzonera; Spanish salsify is Scolymus.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Tragopogon (Greek for goat's beard). Compositae. Goat's-beard. Erect biennial or perennial herbs with narrow grass-like leaves and heads of yellow or purple flowers, belonging to the ligulate section of the composite family (tribe Cichoriaceae).

Mostly weedy plants with a tap-root: florets perfect, with slender style-branches and sagittate anthers; pappus composed of bristles in a single series; involucre cylindric or nearly so, with approximately equal-length bracts in a single row.—Between 30 and 40 species, native to S. Eu., N. Afr., and Cent. and S. Asia. One of them is cult. for its edible taproot (salsify) and another is now a frequent weed in thus country. The fls. of these open only in the morning.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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About 45 species, including:

T. acanthocarpus Boiss
T. afghanicus Rech.f. & Köie
T. agrostiphyllus Rech.f. & Köie
T. alaicus Nikitin
T. albinerve Freyn & Sint.
T. albomarginatus Kitam.
T. altaicus S.A.Nikitin & Schischk.
T. angustissimus S.A.Nikitin
T. armeniacus Kuth.
T. artemczukii Klokov
T. aureus Boiss.
T. badachschanicus Boriss.
T. bakhtiaricus Rech.f.
T. balcanicus Velen.
T. barbirostris Bisch.
T. bjelorussicus Artemczuk
T. bornmuelleri G.B.Ownbey & Rech.f.
T. capitatus S.A.Nikitin
T. castellanus Levier
T. cazorlanum C.Díaz & Blanca
T. charadzeae Kuth.
T. clavulatus S.A.Nikitin
T. coelesyriacus Boiss.
T. colchicus Albov ex Grossh.
T. collinus DC.
T. coloratus C.A.Mey.
T. conduplicatus S.A.Nikitin
T. cretaceus S.A.Nikitin
T. crocifolius L.
T. cupani Guss. ex DC.
T. dasyrhynchus Artemczuk
T. dolichocarpus Klokov
T. duarius Chenev.
T. dubianskyi Krasch. & S.A.Nikitin
T. dubius Scop. - western salsify, western goat's beard, wild oysterplant, yellow salsify, yellow goat's beard, meadow goat's beard, goat's beard, goatsbeard, common salsify, salsify
T. elatior Steven
T. elongatus S.A.Nikitin
T. erostris Boiss. & Hausskn.
T. fibrosum Freyn & Sint. ex Freyn
T. filifolius Rehm. ex Boiss.
T. flexuosus Sosn. ex Grossh.
T. floccosus Waldst. & Kit. - woolly goatsbeard
T. gaudanicus Boriss.
T. glabrum G.Nicholson
T. gongylorrhizus Rech.f.
T. gracilis D.Don
T. graminifolius DC.
T. hayekii (Soó) I.Richardson
T. heteropappus C.H.An
T. hortensis Focke
T. humilis Fisch.
T. hybridus L. - pasture goatsbeard
T. idae Kuth.
T. iranicus Rech.f.
T. jesdianus Boiss. & Buhse
T. karelinii S.A.Nikitin
T. karjaginii Kuth.
T. kasahstanicus S.A.Nikitin
T. kashmirianus G.Singh
T. kemulariae Kuth.
T. ketzkhovelii Kuth.
T. khorasanicus Rech.f.
T. kindingeri Adamov
T. kopetdaghensis Boriss.
T. krascheninnikovii S.A.Nikitin
T. kultiassovii Popov ex S.A.Nikitin
T. kurdicus Blakelock
T. kurdistanicus Chrtek & Hadač
T. lassithicus Rech.f.
T. latifolius Boiss.
T. leiorhynchus Klokov
T. leonidae Kuth.
T. leucanthus Rech.f.
T. lamottei Rouy - jack-go-to-bed-at-noon
T. makaschwilii Kuth.
T. malikus S.A.Nikitin


T. marginatus Pavlov
T. melanantherus Klokov
T. meskheticus Kuth.
T. minor Mill.
T. mirabilis Rouy - Ontario goatsbeard
T. mirus G.B.Ownbey - remarkable goatsbeard
T. miscellus G.B.Ownbey - hybrid goat's-beard, Moscow salsify
T. moldavicus Klokov
T. montanus S.A.Nikitin
T. mutabilis Jacq.
T. nebrodensis Guss.
T. neglectum Hausskn.
T. olympicus Boiss.
T. orientalis L.
T. otschiaurii Kuth.
T. paradoxus S.A.Nikitin
T. parviflorus Trev.
T. perpusillus Arv.-Touv.
T. persicus Boiss.
T. phaeus Focke
T. pichlerii Boiss.
T. porphyrocephalus Rech.f.
T. porrifolius L. - salsify, purple salsify, oyster plant, common salsify, goatsbeard
T. praecox Focke
T. pratensis L. - jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, meadow salsify or goatsbeard
T. pseudocastellanus Blanca & C.Díaz
T. pseudomajus S.A.Nikitin
T. pterodes Pančić
T. pubescens Kit.
T. pusillus M.Bieb.
T. rechingeri G.B.Ownbey
T. reticulatus Boiss. & A.Huet
T. rezaiyensis Rech.f.
T. rhodanthus Sweet
T. ruber S.G.Gmel.
T. rumelicum Velen.
T. ruthenicus Besser ex Claus
T. sabulosus Krasch. & S.A.Nikitin
T. samaritani Heldr. & Sart.
T. savranicus Sobko
T. scopoli Vill.
T. segetus Kuth.
T. serawschanicus S.A.Nikitin
T. sibiricus Ganesch.
T. silesiacus Krock.
T. soltisiorum Mavrodiev
T. songoricus S.A.Nikitin
T. sosnowskyi Kuth.
T. stribrnyi Hayek
T. stroterocarpus Rech.f.
T. subacaulis O.Schwarz
T. subalpinus S.A.Nikitin
T. tanaiticus Artemczuk
T. tasch-kala Kuth.
T. tauricus Klokov
T. tesquicola Klokov
T. tomentosulus Boriss.
T. tommasinii Sch.Bip.
T. trachycarpus S.A.Nikitin
T. transcarpaticus Klokov
T. transsilvanicus Hayek
T. turkestanicus S.A.Nikitin
T. ucrainicus Artemczuk
T. vaginatus G.B.Ownbey & Rech.f.
T. verrucosobracteatus C.H.An
T. villosus L.
T. vulgaris Gueldenst.
T. vvedenskyi Popov
T. xanthantherus Klokov
T. × crantzii Dichlt. - Crantz's salsify
    [ dubius × pratensis ]
T. × neohybridus Farw. - newhybrid salsify
    [ porrifolius × pratensis ]



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