Characteristics of meadow salsify

What is meadow salsify?

Characteristics of meadow salsify ( Tragopogon pratensis )

Common name: Salsify, Meadow salsify, Goat’s-beard.

tragopogon pratensis
Meadow salsify photo

Spanish: Salsifí, salsifí de los prados, barba de cabra, salsifí negro.

Scientific name: Tragopogon pratensis L.

Family: Asteraceae or Compositae

Habitat: Where does meadow salsify grow?

Plant native to Eurasia. We can find it in grasslands, near forests or in cultivated fields as well as undergrowth, wastelands and old farm fields.

Description of the plant

Biennial plant up to 60 cm. Tall. Alternate leaves, hugging the stem, lanceolate and ending in a sharp point. They can measure up to 20 cm, although the upper ones are shorter.

tragopogon pratensis
Unopened floral chapter of meadow salsify, consumed as asparagus.

Stems that can branch out and give multiple flower stalks.

Typical inflorescence of the composites, formed by numerous little flowers that make up the floral chapter. They are yellow in color, with a certain resemblance to dandelions, but with the bracts as long or longer than the petals (ligules).

The flowers open in the morning and close in the early afternoon, leaving an unopened bud.

The fruit is an achene, which is arranged in a pappus. Its seeds are dispersed by the wind.

Collection time and parts used

  • The tender shoots are collected in spring to be cooked as a vegetable: Cut the flower heads, before the flowers open. The flower stalk is cut, immediately after the first leaf (approximately 8 – 10 cm.).
  • The root is harvested in autumn and dried for later use as a medicinal plant. It can also be consumed in food.


The plant is edible and has different uses in food:

  • Root: The root is fleshy and is sometimes used as a carrot in food. It is rich in inulin, like artichoke, and has a slightly sweet taste. The cooked root is consumed.Meadow salsify (Tragopodon pratensis) has a root with black skin, while Tragopogon porrifolius (common salsify) has a white root. The latter is the one that is most cultivated to take advantage of its root.
  • Leaves and young shoots: It is an edible wild plant. Its unopened leaves and flowers are cut off the tender floral stems with the first leaf. They are eaten cooked as a vegetable or added to soups or other recipes, like asparagus.

Meadow salsify as food

salsifi hervido
Boiled salsify recipe

Meadow salsify is a healthy plant food that does not show toxicity. It is one of the plants most present in the Cretan diet. A kind of diet so studied for the diversity of wild vegetables that it still conserves, and which it has maintained despite the globalization of markets.

Meadow salsify as a medicinal plant

It has uses in traditional medicine as an aperitif, liver, cleanser and diuretic. Due to its inulin content, it is recommended for diabetics.

Studies show that this plant contains good sources of phenolic compounds capable of protecting against some diseases such as cancer. It is also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Among its phenols, meadow salsify is very rich in gallic acid, caffeic acid and rutin. It also contains certain doses of resveratrol, ferulic acid, and synapic acid.

punto rojo More information on meadow salsify and other plants

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

19 September, 2020

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