Skirret

Sium sisarum          

Skirret is a perennial root vegetable that was at one time popular in American and European gardens. The skirret plants are around 4′ tall with white flowers resembling Queen Anne’s Lace. In the fall the plant is dug to harvest the cluster of long, pencil-thin roots.  These roots become sweeter after frost. Skirret can be eaten raw or cooked like any root crop. The flavor is reminiscent of parsnips. In some cases the roots can have an inedible, fibrous core. The outer flesh can be removed, but this is somewhat time-consuming. To grow the largest roots with the least amount of core, Skirret should be planted in rich moist soil. First year roots are quite small and you will probably want to wait until the second year to harvest. Propagation is easy. You can simply divide the the root clumps and replant. Skirret seed is slow to germinate and can take 2 weeks or longer. I plant my seed about 1/4″ deep in pots 8-10 weeks before planting in the spring. They can also be direct-seeded. Plant 2′ apart in beds or rows.

Skirret beds

Skirret beds

Skirret in mid summer

Skirret in mid summer

Going to seed in fall

Going to seed in fall