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Sium sisarum - L.                
                 
Common Name Skirret
Family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation but found as an escape from cultivation in damp places[50].
Range Original habitat is obscure, possibly in E. Europe or Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Sium sisarum is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 11-Mar It is in flower in July, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


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 Skirret


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Illustration_Sium_sisarum0.jpg
Sium sisarum Skirret
© Jaap Uilhoorn
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses: Coffee.

Root - raw or cooked[2, 4, 14, 33]. Firm, sweet and floury[27] but with a small woody core[160, K]. 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[183, K]. The roasted root has been used as a coffee substitute[46, 61, 183].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Appetizer.

None known
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a light, rich, moisture retentive soil in full sun[1, 33, 37]. Requires an abundance of moisture in the growing season or the roots will be tough[27, 37]. Plants are tolerant of some shade[244]. Plants seem to be resistant to all insects and diseases[160]. Skirret was at one time often grown for its edible root but has fallen into virtual disuse[2, 50, 61]. This is a shame since the root is very tasty, easy to grow and relatively productive[K]. 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[200].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow late winter to early spring in a cold frame[1, 33]. 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[1, 33]. Division in early spring just before new growth begins. Use the side roots to produce new plants[1]. 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.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
50200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[14]Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs.
A good herbal.
[27]Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden.
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
[33]Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table.
Unusual vegetables that can be grown outdoors in Britain. A good guide.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[160]Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987.
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[244]Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.

Readers comment                                         
 
Paulo B.
Jun 27 2011 12:00AM
I grew easily this plant a few years ago, in a shade garden, and was very successful. It flowered extensively also. I like the taste of the root but can be a bit fibrous sometimes. I got seeds but unfortunately lost them. It's not so easy to get this plant, seeds or roots. I haven't tried cooked, but I assume it would be even more tastier. Nice addition to your forest garden.
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Subject : Sium sisarum  
             

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