Salsify and scorzonera re two very similar root vegetables that are nonetheless from different plant genera, but both in the sunflower / aster family.
Tragopogon porrifolius is a plant cultivated for its ornamental flower and edible root. It also grows wild in many places and is one of the most widely known species of the salsify genus. It is commonly known as purple or common salsify, oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Jerusalem star, Jack go to bed, goatsbeard or simply salsify.
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 genus Scorzonera in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), cultivated as a root vegetable in the same way as purple salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius), also in the sunflower family.
These are hardy plants that are fairly easy to grow. Both have a deep taproot.
Salsify root does not tolerate the desert summer heat very well, insofar that the roots become very fibrous and unpleasant to eat. Scorzonera did not seem to have the same problem. It's roots were thinner and more delicate.
Both plants prioduce decorative flowers that would do well in almost any flower garden.
salsifyPic1-3: salsify in/from my 2014 vegetable garden
scorzonera aka black salsifyPic4-6: scorzonera in/from my 2015 vegetable garden
The root is noted for tasting of oysters, from which the plant derives its alternative name of oyster plant; young roots can be grated for use in salads, but older roots are better cooked, and they are usually used in soups or stews. It is recommended that when using the root that, if cut, its color be preserved in acidulated water. A latex derived from the root can be used as a chewing gum. The flowering shoots can be used like asparagus, either raw or cooked, and the flowers can be added to salad, while the sprouted seeds can be used in salads or sandwiches.
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 contains an extremely sticky latex, it is often more convenient to peel it after boiling the root for 20 to 25 minutes (or less). Residue of the latex can be removed by rubbing with a drop of oil and then washing with soap.
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, mustard sauce or hollandaise sauce. Boiled salsify roots may also be coated with batter and deep fried.
salsify vs. scorzoneraPic7: 2014-12-12 — salsify Hollandaise
The cooking method is the same for both. If the roots are peeled before cooking, they should at all times be kept in water with some lime juice or vinegar to prevent the latex in the roots from blackening.
2015-01-30: scorzoneraPic9: peel, boil