salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius
Salsify is a purple flowered version of the yellow goat's-beards. The plants are much the same except for color, and for what they do underground. This is also called oyster plant, after the round edible slices you can cut from the roots. The tuberous root can be up to a foot long and two inches thick. They're eaten like parsnips, so why can't you run right out to the store to get some? One infers that this would be a poor substitute for parsnips. It might be hard to sell a poor substitute or something that's a poor substitute for food. If you do know a spot to dig them, now is the time. They're said to be best in the fall and winter, when they've stored up nutrients for the next spring. Salsify is as wide spread as the yellow species, but less common. It prefers looser soils where those large tubers can better grow. It has been found in AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY, AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, ON, PE, and QC. Lenawee Co MI, 5/23/12. Aster family, Asteraceae.