Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Friday, 22 July 2011

Jack Go To Bed At Noon

Last year this rather exotic looking flower appeared on mine and several other allotments for the first time. Having been stumped (again) by Mr Allotment Warden as to its identity, I rushed home to find out what it was. It's salsify, aka the marvellous Jack Go To Bed At Noon - named as such because its flowers always close by midday.

Here you can see both open and closed flowers - making it seem even more exotic and alien than in the first picture. I think this must be the cultivated version because the flower in my Francis Rose Wild Flower Key looks exactly the same in form, but is bright yellow in colour and called meadow salsify.

Its other common name is Goatsbeard, which must be a nod to the fantastic dandelion-like clock which forms the seed head. With 'parachutes' like those shown above, who knows how far our plotted plants came from. I rather like the photographic dissection of the seedhead found in this link.

Salsify is edible: its lateral shoots and flowers can be used in salads or lightly steamed. The root is harvested come the autumn and cooked with garlic, cream and butter. Yum.

I must remember to harvest the seeds, to guarantee its return to my plot next year.

10 comments:

  1. how pretty! i like the way the word 'salsify' sounds :) another of my favorite blogs did a post some months back on cooking with salsify: http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/the_wednesday_chef/2011/03/stephen-williamss-salsify-in-black-forest-ham.html

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  2. beautiful flower and seed head bet the insects and poss birds love it - I have never tried it as a food although it is on my list of ones to try next year - all the more determined now - thanks for pics.

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  3. What a lovely looking plant - wish all self-sown allotment gate-crashers were as beautiful and useful.

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  4. What a lucky accident to find such a gorgeous flower, and bud. Will you try and eat the root?

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  5. It does, indeed, look pretty. Would you grow it in your garden as a flower or is it too leafy?

    Esther

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  6. I love this flower but attempts to grow it from seed so far have failed. I haven't tried for a few years and am better at sowing from seed now, so much try again. Really jealous it just turned up at your lottie!

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  7. Find the flower pretty forgettable myself, but love the seedhead. Also love that it kinda decides for me where its going to live!
    Best
    R

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  8. Hello and thanks for all your comments :)

    Petoskystone - that recipe looks great, thanks

    Camilla - I most certainly shall!

    Esther - there's quite a few leaves, but plenty of flowers too. The leaves are quite narrow, so I reckon it'd be a good plant for squeezing in with others

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  9. Love the Jack Go To Bed at Noon. Re. the Goatsbeard, I was told as a child its name come from the look of the bud just before it blooms which resembles a goats's beard.

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  10. tomsaettelnyc - interesting :)

    It's just coming into flower again.

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