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Publication #HS662

Salsify—Tragopogon porrifolius L.1

James M. Stephens2

Salsify is also known as the oyster plant or vegetable oyster. It is grown for the edible root which has a flavor like that of oysters. Salsify is grown only occasionally in Florida home gardens, but does fairly well here.

Figure 1. 



James M. Stephens

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The plant is a biennial belonging to the same family of plants as chicory and dandelion. It is grown as an annual with culture similar to that for parsnips or carrots. The long, slender, pointed, smooth, flat leaves are about 1-inch in diameter at the crown and are 10–12 inches long. Roots are 8–12 inches long, cylindrical, 1-inch or less in diameter, and salmon or brown in color. Older roots possess a white, milky white sap.


Salsify requires a long growing season of 120 to 150 days from seeding to harvest. In the northern states, it is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall. In Florida, the best production period is from October through March, as salsify will withstand frost.

The seedlings should be thinned to 3–4 inches apart in rows 18–24 inches apart. Cover the seed ½ inch deep. The variety 'Mammoth Sandwich Island' is most commonly grown.


Salsify is used in soups and stews; it can be boiled, cut into small pieces, and creamed like asparagus. It can be cut into long strips, boiled, and then fried in butter or mashed.



This document is HS662, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 1994. Revised September 2015. Visit the EDIS website at


James M. Stephens, professor emeritus, Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.