Meadow salsify was introduced by early Europeans because its roots are edible.
It has become common to invasive in many parts of temperate North America. Why is it
called Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon? Ask the
Plants: Plants are 12-39" (30-100 cm) in height.
Broken stems and leaves exude a milky latex. This plant has a two-year lifespan (biennial).
In the first year, it forms a basal rosette of leaves. In the second year it produces flowers.
Leaves: Lanceolate, grasslike, hairless, tapering to a long narrow tip,
and less than 12" (30 cm) long. The leaves are alternate, and clasp the stem.
Flowers: Yellow, about 1¾" (5 cm) around. Blooms open
in the morning and close in the afternoon. Buds have purple stripes. Flowers appear late spring to mid-summer.
Fruits: Produces a pappas—a round seedhead of achenes, each on its own
tiny “pararchute,” similar to dandelions.
Edibility: Young roots are edible raw. Older roots should be cooked like
parsnips. Young shoots and leaves can be used raw or cooked in soups or salads. The flowering stem and buds,
cooked like asparagus, are also edible.