Herbs & Plants

Sium sisarum

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Botanical Name : Sium sisarum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Sium
Species: S. sisarum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Name: Skirret, Suikerwortel (Netherlands), Crummock (Scotland), Zuckewurzel (Germany). Its Danish name sokerot and Dutch name suikerwortel translate as ‘sugar root’. The English name skirret is derived from the Middle English ‘skirwhit’ or ‘skirwort’, meaning ‘white root‘. In Scotland it is known as crummock.

Habitat: Sium sisarum’s Original habitat is obscure, (It is believed to be a plant of Chinese origin, cultivated in Europe.) possibly in E. Europe or Asia. It grows in a truly wild situation but found as an escape from cultivation in damp places. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Sium sisarum is a perennial plant, growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in). It is in leaf 11-Mar It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in September.
It has a cluster of bright white, sweetish, somewhat aromatic roots, each approximately 15-20 cm in length. These are used as a vegetable in the same manner as the common salsify, black salsify and the parsnip. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Prefers a light, rich, moisture retentive soil in full sun. Requires an abundance of moisture in the growing season or the roots will be tough. Plants are tolerant of some shade. Plants seem to be resistant to all insects and diseases. Skirret was at one time often grown for its edible root but has fallen into virtual disuse. This is a shame since the root is very tasty, easy to grow and relatively productive. The form S. sisarum sisarum should be used, its root is fleshy and succulent, S. sisarum lancifolium. (Bieb.) Thell. is sometimes offered but is unlikely to produce roots of culinary quality.
Propagation :
Seed – sow late winter to early spring in a cold frame. It can be slow to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer if they are large enough. Otherwise, grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in the following spring. The seed is best sown in early April in situ. Division in early spring just before new growth begins. Use the side roots to produce new plants. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.

Edible Uses: Root is eaten raw or cooked. Firm, sweet and floury but with a small woody core. The roots have a very acceptable taste raw, that is somewhat like a cross between carrots and parsnip but with a nutty flavour. They can also be boiled, baked or added to soups etc. The roasted root has been used as a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses: Sium sisarum, or Skirret has a sweetish, somewhat aromatic root, which is used as a vegetable in much the same manner as the Oyster plant or Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) and the Parsnip. It is supposed to be a useful diet in chest complaints.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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