What Is Black Salsify? 7 Simple Steps to Grow Scorzonera

what is black salsify?

There are some vegetables that seem like they would be less-than-appetizing, but when cooked right their flavor is out of this world. One such example? Salsify!

This unsightly root veggie turns into an amazing dish with just a little creativity and effort from you — so don’t let its appearance stop you in your tracks; give salsifies another chance because we promise no one will ever know what’s hidden beneath those dirt stains on top (or maybe even better yet…beats!)

According to Wikipedia, the first mention of black salsify by a Western writer came from Rudolf Leonhard, who reported seeing scorzonera at the market of Aleppo in Syria, in 1575.

In this article, you will learn what black salsify is, how to grow it, the benefits of eating this root vegetable, and much more.

So let’s get started!

What Is Black Salsify?

image of black salsify

A vegetable you may not have heard of, black salsify is a winter vegetable that can be stored in the ground over winter.

It is native to Europe and North Africa and has been cultivated for centuries.

Black Salsify, also known as Scorzonera Hispanica or Spanish salsify, is a root vegetable that resembles a long cylindrical shape, a black carrot.

It’s part of the daisy family and is sometimes also called the oyster plant or goat’s beard.

Scientific NameScorzonera hispanica
Height12 to 36 inches (30 to 90 cm)
USDA Growing Zones4 to 9
Required SunlightMinimum 6 to 8 hours per day
Soil TypeSandy, loamy, and well-drained soil
Crop Water Requirement1-2 inches per week 
Growth Period12 to 18 weeks
FertilizingOnce every two weeks
Harvestfrom October to March

There are many different varieties, but the most common is the Spanish Black-Salsify, which has dark brown or black skin.

When to plant Black Salsify? It is a cool weather crop that can be planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked.

It can also be planted in late summer for a fall harvest. But my recommendation is to plant it in early spring so you can enjoy the pretty white flowers it produces in May or June.

Salsify is a relative of the dandelion and shares a similar taproot. The roots can grow up to 2 feet long but are typically about 12 inches. They are thin and white with brown skin.

Is Salsify easy to grow? Salsify or “white crow” as it’s sometimes called in Europe and Asia (because of its shape) can be grown easily so long as you have prepared the soil properly. It likes to grow deep roots into good-quality loam which provides plenty for them!

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You’ll find that this larger root vegetable needs more sunlight than most plants – especially at peak growing season when things should fruit heavily but carefully if they want big yields from their efforts; though even then there are some who advocate against planting these stubbornly persistent veggies too late after the last frost.

Scorzonera Hispanica is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, and vitamin C. It also contains inulin, a type of dietary fiber that can help to regulate blood sugar levels.

Health benefits of Black Salsify

Health benefits of balck salsify
Credit: Canva

Salsify is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that provides a number of health benefits.

1. May improve digestion

Spanish Salsify contains inulin, a type of dietary fiber that acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are food for probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut.

Probiotics are important for gut health, and they help to break down food, absorb nutrients, and prevent infections.

2. May boost heart health

It is a good source of potassium, a mineral that is essential for heart health. Potassium helps to regulate blood pressure and keep the heart rhythm healthy. It also helps to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

3. May support bone health

Scorzonera Hispanica is a good source of calcium, a mineral that is essential for bone health. Calcium helps to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.

It also helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and fragile.

4. May improve blood sugar control

Salsify contains inulin, a type of dietary fiber that can help to regulate blood sugar levels.

Inulin slows down the absorption of sugar from the gut, which helps to prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. This is beneficial for people with diabetes and prediabetes.

5. May enhance weight loss

It is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that can help to promote weight loss. It is also a good source of fiber, which helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied after meals.

7 Simple Steps to Grow Black Salsify

Credit: Canva

Step 1: Soil

Spanish salsify requires deep, well-drained soil. Working the soil 18-24 inches deep will reduce compaction so that your plants can develop long, straight roots with few deformities.

The ideal pH range is 6.0-7.5; if your soil is too alkaline, you can add some sulfur to lower the pH. Black salsify can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 4-9, but it does best in zones 6-8.

Step 2: Soil Preparation:

Salsify is a root vegetable that can be easily grown in prepared soil. When planting, determine if you need a fertilizer with a soil test and then follow the recommendations given by it.

You can apply any kind of organic or chemical-based products but make sure not to exceed 1 inch per 100 sq ft (10 grams) as this may cause root damage

In order for your plants’ roots sections to get ample nutrients without drowning them in potent chemicals that might be harmful if ingested oneself through drinking water runoff etc, try using compost instead – just remember never put more than 20 lbs

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Step 3: Planting

Its seeds are best planted in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep in rows that are 18 inches apart.

Step 4: Sunlight

It needs full sun to partial shade. If you live in an area with hot summers, it’s best to plant black salsify in an area that gets some afternoon shade.

Step 5: Watering

Water your black-salsify plants regularly, especially during dry spells. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. So, irrigate with 1-2 inches of water per week to maintain moist but not wet soil.

Step 6: Fertilizing

A monthly application of a balanced fertilizer will help your black salsify plants to thrive. In midsummer, apply ½ cup of a nitrogen-based fertilizer per 25 feet along the row.

Place it at an angle so that you are able to water all sides with ease and then irrigate in deeply for best results!

Step 7: Harvesting

You can begin harvesting salsify roots after they have been growing for about 3 months.  

Use a sharp knife or spade to carefully dig up the roots, being careful not to damage them. Rinse the roots off and store them in a cool, dark place.

The second year of salsify roots is even tastier than the first.

Some Common Problems of Black Salsify

One common problem with Scorzonera Hispanica is that it can be difficult to get the plant to flower. This can be due to a number of factors, including too much shade, not enough water, or soil that is too rich in nitrogen.

If you’re having trouble getting your black salsify to flower, make sure to give it plenty of sun and water, and consider amending your soil with some phosphorus-rich fertilizer.

Another common issue with black salsify is that the roots can be quite tough and fibrous. This makes them difficult to eat raw, and even when cooked they can often be stringy and unappetizing.

To avoid this problem, make sure to peel the roots before cooking them, and consider slicing or chopping them into smaller pieces to make them more palatable.

Finally, it is susceptible to a number of diseases and pests, including powdery mildew, root rot, and aphids.

To keep your plants healthy, make sure to choose disease-resistant varieties and take steps to control pests such as aphids. With proper care, black salsify can be a delicious and easy-to-grow addition to your garden.

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What to Look for When Buying Salsify?

buying black salsify
Credit: Canva

There are a few things you should look for when buying salsify. Make sure to get salsify that is fresh and not wilted. The leaves should be green and the root should be firm. Avoid salsify that has been treated with pesticides or herbicides.

When cooking salsify, you can either boil it, bake it, or fry it. Boiling will make the root more tender, while baking or frying will give it a crispy texture.

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No matter how you cook it, be sure to add some type of fat such as butter or olive oil to help soften the root. Finally, season your salsify with salt, pepper, and other spices to taste.

Now that you know what to look for when buying and cooking salsify, give it a try in your next meal! You may be surprised at how delicious this root vegetable can be.

What does salsify root taste like? Black salsify is sometimes known as the black oyster plant due to its taste, which has been described as a cross between an artichoke and an oyster.

Its flesh is white and crunchy, with a nutty flavor. It can be eaten raw or cooked and is often used in soups and stews.

How to eat Black Salsify? It can be eaten raw or cooked. It is often used in soups and stews.

To eat Black Salsify raw, simply wash it and slice it into thin pieces. It can be added to salads or used as a healthy snack.

To cook Black Salsify, peel it and cut it into pieces. It can be boiled, roasted, or stir-fried. Black Salsify is often used in soups and stews.

Some Recipes that include black salsify

some recipes of black salsify
Credit: Canva

Black salsify is commonly used in soups and stews, as well as roasted or mashed as a side dish. It can also be thinly sliced and fried or baked in gratins. When cooked, black salsify turns a deep brown color.

Here are some recipes that include black salsify:

  1. Black Salsify Soup with Parmesan Croutons
  2. Roasted Black Salsify with Garlic and Herbs
  3. Black Salsify Gratin with Gruyere Cheese
  4. Fried Black Salsify with Aioli Dip
  5. Baked Black Salsify Chips
  6. Black Salsify Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
  7. Cream of Black Salsify Soup with Bacon Crumbles
  8. Black Salsify and Potato Mash
  9. Sauteed Black Salsify with Pancetta and Sage
  10. Braised Black Salsify with carrots, leeks, and celery.


Black salsify is a delicious, nutritious root vegetable that is easy to grow in your home garden. With just a little care and attention, you can enjoy fresh black salsify all season long!

So, if you’re looking for a new vegetable to try, be sure to add black salsify to your list. Thanks for reading!


Q: Can You Eat Salsify Flowers?

Ans: Yes, you can eat salsify flowers. Salsify flowers are actually black salsify, and they are the edible part of the plant. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Q: Is Black Salsify A Perennial?

Ans: Yes, Black salsify is a perennial. It’s a root vegetable that’s native to Europe and Asia, and it’s been cultivated for centuries. The plant grows to be about two feet tall, and the roots are long and slender, with dark brown or black skin. Black salsify is sometimes also called scorzonera, or serpent root.
The roots are the part of the plant that’s edible, and they have a taste that’s similar to oysters. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often used in soups and stews. Black salsify is a good source of Vitamins C and B6, potassium, and magnesium.

Q: Is Salsify Poisonous?

Ans: Black salsify is poisonous if consumed in large quantities. It can cause vomiting, convulsions, and even death.
However, it is not harmful if consumed in small quantities. If you’re concerned about consuming black salsify, speak to a medical professional before consuming it.

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