French salsifis, from Italian salsefica, sassefrica
First Known Use: circa 1706
Flower of goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis)—Louise K. Broman/Root Resources
Biennial herbaceous plant (Tragopogon porrifolius) of the aster family (Asteraceae), native to the Mediterranean. The thick, white taproot is cooked as a vegetable and tastes somewhat like oysters. The plant has purple flowers and narrow leaves whose bases usually clasp the stem. Goatsbeard, or meadow salsify (T. pratensis), is a weedy European species, naturalized in North America, that has a large yellow flower head. It is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental, and its leaves, flowers, and roots are sometimes eaten in salads.