Scorzonera hispanica

Scorzonera hispanica

name = Black salsify

image_width = 200px
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Magnoliophyta
classis = Magnoliopsida
ordo = Asterales
familia = Asteraceae
genus = "Scorzonera"
species = "S. hispanica"
binomial = "Scorzonera hispanica"
binomial_authority = L.

"Scorzonera hispanica", black salsify or Spanish salsify, also known as black oyster plant, serpent root, viper's herb, viper's grass or simply Scorzonera, is a perennial member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), cultivated as a root vegetable in the same way as some of the members of the salsify genus "Tragopogon", to which it is closely related.


The black salsify plant 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 flesh.


The black salsify is native to Southern Europe and the Near East. 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 Belgians were growing vast fields of it.

Food value

The black salsify is considered nutritious: it contains proteins, fats, the glycosides asparagine, choline and 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.


The 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.

Black 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.


Belgium, France and the Netherlands are the world's largest producers of black salsify. It is, however, very hardy and will grow well in most cool temperate climates. In British gardens it is common to profit from its perennial character by leaving it in the ground until its roots have grown to sufficient size for harvesting; this can take two years.



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  • Scorzonera Hispanica — viper vi per (v[imac] p[ e]r), n. [F. vip[ e]re, L. vipera, probably contr. fr. vivipera; vivus alive + parere to bring forth, because it was believed to be the only serpent that brings forth living young. Cf. {Quick}, a., {Parent}, {Viviparous} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Scorzonera hispanica — valgomoji gelteklė statusas T sritis augalininkystė apibrėžtis Daugiametė, stora, rudai juoda, ritinio pavidalo šaknimi astrinių (Asteraceae) šeimos daržovė. Maistui vartojamos šaknys, kurios dažnai vadinamos juodšaknėmis. Tai dietinė daržovė,… …   Žemės ūkio augalų selekcijos ir sėklininkystės terminų žodynas

  • SCORZONERA HISPANICA L. - КОЗЕЛЕЦ ИСПАНСКИЙ, СКОРЦОНЕРА, СЛАДКИЙ КОРЕНЬ, ЧЕРНЫЙ К. — Scorzonera hispanica L. Козелец испанский, Скорцонера, Сладкий корень, Черный к. см. 984. Многолетнее растение. S. hispanica L. К. испанский, Скорцонера, Сладкий корень, Черный к. Sp. pl. (1753) 791. Hegi VI, 2 (1928 1929) 1061, ill. Церевитинов… …   Справочник растений

  • Scorzonera hispanica — noun perennial south European herb having narrow entire leaves and solitary yellow flower heads and long black edible roots shaped like carrots • Syn: ↑black salsify, ↑viper s grass, ↑scorzonera • Hypernyms: ↑herb, ↑herbaceous plant • Member… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Scorzonera hispanica — ID 76706 Symbol Key SCHI2 Common Name black salsify Family Asteraceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity Introduced to U.S. US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution CA Growth Habit Forb/herb Duration …   USDA Plant Characteristics

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