Salsify is a perennial herb that grows wild in Europe and Asia. It is also called common viper's grass or the oyster plant. Wild chicory and bitter chicory are often improperly categorized as salsify.
The salsify root may be prepared the same way as parsnips. It is quick-cooking and can be served with different sauces. The tender leaves can be used in salad.
Salsify contains a natural insulin that, when digested by the stomach's hydrochloric acid, helps take place of the starch digestion that the pancreas would have to do. It has an alkaline ash.
Salsifies are forbs growing as biennial or perennial plants. They have a strong taproot and milky sap. They generally have few branches, and those are tend to be upright. Their leaves are somewhat grass-like. Flower color varies within the genus, with some yellow species, and some bronze or purple. Seeds are borne in a globe like that of a dandelion but larger, and are dispersed by the wind.
Salsify can be treated like carrots... it's starchier and more aromatic though, and really good to eat raw. It's excellent sauteed, roasted, in soups, stews, or pickled. Mario Batali has a recipe for it in the Babbo cookbook. He simple sautees it with chilis and lemon juice, serving it as a side.