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Black salsify
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Scorzonera
Species: S. hispanica
Binomial name
Scorzonera hispanica
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.

Contents

Description

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.

History

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, and soon after, the Belgians were growing vast fields of it.

Food value

The black salsify is considered nutritious: it contains proteins, fats, asparagine, choline, 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 mainly consists of fructose, it is particularly suitable for diabetics.

Black Salsify Roots

Preparation

The thick black skin of the salsify root is usually considered inedible and can 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 or lemon juice, in order to prevent discolouring. Since the root sap is an extremely sticky latex, 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 served like asparagus in a white sauce, such as bechamel sauce or mustard sauce. Boiled salsify roots may also be coated with batter and deep fried.

Cultivation

Commercial production in Germany

Black salsify is hitherto mainly a European crop. Belgium, France and the Netherlands are the world's largest producers of black salsify; significant amounts are also produced in Germany. In the latter country, 'Hoffmanns schwarzer Pfahl' is a cultivar widely used by commercial growers, while 'Duplex' is popular among small-scale gardeners. Some other cultivars are alre widely available, but because it was rather a localized crop before being produced for a wider market there are comparatively few landraces.

Harvesting is somewhat complicated, as the roots are quite fragile, and broken material loses freshness. Entire roots will keep fresh all winter if stored in a cool dark place, due to their robust black corky skin. In root cellars they may keep fresh well into springtime. It is, however, very hardy and will grow well in most cool-temperate climates and usually yield 15-20 metric tons of roots per hectare. 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. Commercially, it can be grown best as the year's second crop of a field.

References

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Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Scorzonera hispanica

Taxonavigation

Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids II
Ordo: Asterales
Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Cichorioideae
Tribus: Cichorieae
Subtribus: Scorzonerinae
Genus: Scorzonera
Species: Scorzonera hispanica

Name

Scorzonera hispanica L.

References

  • Species Plantarum 2:791. 1753
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]

Vernacular names

Česky: Hadí mord španělský
Deutsch: Schwarzwurzel
English: Black salsify
Español: Escorzonera, salsifí negro, salsifí de España, tarinetes
Français: Scorsonère, salsifis noir
Magyar: Feketegyökér
Português: Escorcioneira
Русский: Козелец испанский, Скорцонера испанская, Чёрный корень, Сладкий корень
Türkçe: Sakız otu
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Scorzonera hispanica on Wikimedia Commons.

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