United States Edition

Black Salsify    

Scorzonera hispanica

Belonging to the Scorzonera genus, Black Salsify has a botanical name of Scorzonera hispanica.

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. (2) Carrot shaped edible roots.

A hardy biennial, native to Spain. Sometimes called Black Salsify because of the black color of its skin. Slow developing crop so start as early as possible. Can be grown as annual or biennial. Unlike salsify it is not necessary to pull the roots after the first year of growth to preserve its flavor and tenderness – you can continue to let it grow. Nutritious roots cooked like carrots or beets. Better in flavor than regular salsify. Often called the “mock oyster” or “vegetable oyster” because of its oysterlike flavor. Roots are boiled, steamed, baked, batter-fried, and excellent in soups and stews. Young tender shoots, flower buds, or even the yellow flower petals can be used in salads. Roasted roots are a coffee substitute. (3)

Blooms appear in these approximate colours:   Electric yellow. When fully grown, they tend to grow to a diameter of 3.0 cm (that's 1.17 inches in imperial).When ripe, fruit appear in these approximate colours:   Rich black. Leaves appear approximately as a   Ao green colour. Black Salsify grows as a perennial and is a flowering edible vegetable. Being a perennial plant, it tends to grow best over several years (approx 3 years and greater). Normally growing to a mature height of 45.0 cm / 1.46 feet. This plant tends to be ready for harvesting by mid autumn.

Spain is believed to be where Black Salsify originates from.

Being a fairly low maintenance plant, Black Salsify is normally quite easy to grow provided a minimum level of care is given throughout the year. It will be helpful to note the correct soil, sun and water needs of this plant to ensure that this plant thrives.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Black Salsify have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Black Salsify

  • Full Sun

  • Medium

Loose, rich soil is best because roots can break easily when harvested.

Plant in a location that enjoys full sun and remember to water moderately. The USDA Zones typically associated with Black Salsify are Zone 1 and Zone 10. Planting Black Salsify in loamy soil with a ph of between 6.0 and 6.8 is ideal for as it does best in weakly acidic soil. Keep in mind when planting that Black Salsify is thought of as hardy, so it can be safe to leave outdoors for the majority of winter (although if in doubt, using a row cover is often a good idea).

See our list of companion Plants for Black Salsify to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Black Salsify from seed

Direct sow after last frost through July. May soak seeds before planting or water well directly after planting.

Aim to sow 0.39 inches (1.0 cm) deep and try to ensure a gap of at least 3.9 inches (10.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 0°C / 32°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Black Salsify about 0 days after your last frost date .

Transplanting Black Salsify

The soil temperature for optimum germination is pretty high, though they are viable down to rather cool temperatures. In our climate, most sources agree that you can sow from “early spring” till as late as mid-July. Now scorzonera, like most roots (carrots are the notable exception) are slow-growing, with 120 days as a typical “days to maturity” figure. Moreover—again, like almost all roots—they are much improved by exposure to at least one good frost, so we don’t want them ready too soon, though they don’t get woody when large; as long as we can still get them out of the ground is as late as we can take them (4)

As Black Salsify is hardy, ensure temperatures are mild enough to plant out - wait until after your last frost date to be on the safe side.

Harvesting Black Salsify

Growing in deep containers will make harvest easier, roots are delicate and easily breakable.

Flavor improves after frost.

Roots may be left in the ground and harvested as needed during the winter if the climate is mild enough so that the ground can be protected against freezing by mulching.

Roots can be stored in the refrigerator or a cool but not freezing location for several months. Cut off the tops before storing.

Leaves can be harvested for salad greens.

Seed Saving Black Salsify

Self sows.

Beware: scorzonera seeds are notoriously short-lived. If you aren’t saving you own seed annually, don’t try to be cheap and use last season’s leftovers—get fresh seed every year. (4)

Common Black Salsify problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Black Salsify plants:

Other names for Black Salsify

Scorzonera hispanica, black salsify , Spanish salsify, black oyster plant, serpent root, viper's herb, viper's grass,(1) mock oyster (3)

Scorzonera hispanica L.

Black Salsify care instructions

How long does Black Salsify take to grow?

These estimates for how long Black Salsify takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

When should I plant Black Salsify?

Our when to plant Black Salsify estimates are relative to your last frost date. Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!


Popular varieties of Black Salsify

View the complete variety list for Black Salsify »

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