Goat’s Beard – Salsifis des prés
It is quite a common plant in our area. An annual to perennial, 30-80 cm tall with a 25 cm long edible taproot. The leaves half clasp the stem, they are grass-like, tapered to a point. The flower heads are golden-yellow (1.8-4 cm), the flower bracts are usually longer than the petals. The root is dark grey on the outside and contains a lot of latex. It likes to be near water, or in moist meadows.
Salsify – Salsifis à feuilles de poireaux
Very common in Provence and closely resembles the cultivated Salsify. Erect stems, usually branched, broadening up to the flower head. The leaves are long, broadly linear. The flower heads are reddish-purple (2.5-4.8 cm), flower bracts are equal, or slightly larger than, the flower rays. The long roots are brown-black from the outside and are rich in latex. Found on roadsides, grass lands or waste ground.
The Italians were the first to cultivate the Salsify in the 16th century. By the 17th century it was introduced into northern Europe as a vegetable and a flower.
The young shoots are eaten in salads or cooked as a vegetable, the buds are eaten fresh, the flowers can be used to decorate a dish and the roots can be steamed or fried.
Bibliography: Mediterranean Wild Flowers – Majorie Blamey and Christopher Grey-Wilson; Herbs and Herbalism – Malcolm Stuart; Sauvages et comestibles – Marie-Cluade Paume