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Foods -- Vegetables

What is salsify, viper grass, and oyster plant?

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Salsify is a carrot-shaped root vegetable. There are three types: white, black, and Spanish. White salsify is yellowish-gray and reaches about 12 inches in length. It has a mild sweet flavor like parsnips. It tastes like Oyster to some people when cooked. This is the reason for the common name of the Oyster plant. Black salsify is dark-skinned and smaller than white salsify. It is said to taste like asparagus. Viper grass comes from its use as a snakebite cure several centuries ago. Spanish salsify, golden thistle, is larger than white salsify and is less flavorful.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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