Tragopogon, also known as salsify, goats beard or oyster plant, is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family Asteraceae that has over 140 species, including the vegetable known as salsify, as well as a number of common wild flowers, some of which are usually regarded as weeds. The root, and sometimes the young shoots, are used as a vegetable, and historically the plant was cultivated for that purpose. The root is noted for tasting of oysters, from which the plant derives its alternative name of oyster plant; young roots can be grated for use in salads, but older roots are better cooked, and they are usually used in soups or stews. A latex derived from the root can be used as a chewing gum. The flowering shoots can be used like asparagus, either raw or cooked, and the flowers can be added to salad, while the sprouted seeds can be used in salads or sandwiches. The plant has also been used in herbalism since classical times, and is claimed to have beneficial effects on the liver and gall bladder. The root is regarded as a diuretic.
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