Scorzonera, Scorzoner or Kozelets: outdoor cultivation

Table of contents:

Scorzonera, Scorzoner or Kozelets: outdoor cultivation
Scorzonera, Scorzoner or Kozelets: outdoor cultivation

Description of the scorzonera plant, agricultural techniques for planting and caring for goat in the open field, advice on reproduction, protection against diseases and pests, interesting notes, species and varieties.

Scorzonera can also be found under the names Scorzonera or Kozelets. The genus contains perennial representatives of the flora belonging to the Asteraceae or Asteraceae family. In nature, the distribution area stretches from Mediterranean lands to East Asia. At the same time, the main places of growth are in arid areas. There are approximately two hundred species in the genus. The most famous variety is the Spanish Scorzonera (Scorzonera hispanica), used in many countries as a vegetable crop.

Family name Astral or Compositae
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous or, in rare cases, semi-shrub
Breeds Using seeds
Sowing time in open ground Spring or autumn
Landing rules Between seeds 2-4 cm, row spacing 25-30 cm
Priming Fertile, moist, rather loose
Soil acidity values, pH Neutral (6, 5-7) or slightly alkaline (7-8)
Illumination level Sunny location
Humidity level Regular and abundant watering, especially in heat and drought
Special care rules Regular feeding
Height options 0.75-1 m
Flowering period May June
Type of inflorescences or flowers Single baskets
Color of flowers Light or bright yellow
Fruit type Cylindrical achene with a tuft
Fruit color Brown
The timing of fruit ripening May June
Decorative period Summer
Application in landscape design In flower beds and mixborders, for planting in garden containers and for cutting, as a vegetable crop in the beds
USDA zone 4–8

There are several versions of the origin of the name scorzonera. According to one of them, the goat got its scientific name thanks to the word in Italian "scorzonera", rooted in the terms "scorza" and "nera", which have the translation "bark" and "black", respectively. This is because people have noted for a long time that the outer surface of the roots of a plant has a black tint.

According to another explanation, the scorzoner owes its name to the word "Escorzonera", which the Spaniards call a species of Spanish goat. This term goes to "escorzon", translated as "poisonous snake" or "snake venom", since in Spain the plant was used for the bites of poisonous reptiles. According to the third theory, at the beginning of the 17th century, the scientific name "Scorzonera" appeared thanks to a similar term "scorzone" in Italian, originating from the Latin word "curtio", meaning, again, "poisonous snake", since the plant could save from poison. Under Alexander the Great, the synonym "snake-snake" took root, but on the territory of Russia the goat was called black root, black carrot or sweet Spanish root.

All representatives of the scorzonera genus are perennials, characterized by a herbaceous form of growth, but in rare cases they take the form of a half-shrub. Stems reach 75 cm in height, but some specimens can reach up to a meter. They grow straight, have dense foliage. The branches at the stem grow upright. All-edged sheet plates. At the same time, the foliage in the lower part of the stem has an oblong-lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate outline, with a sharpening at the top, a large number of veins are present on the surface. Such scorzonera leaves are attached to the stems with the help of elongated petioles, they grow semi-embracing. In the middle part of the stem, the leaf plates at the base are stalk-enveloping, having an elongated-lanceolate shape, and at the tops of the foliage it takes an awl-shaped shape. The color of the deciduous mass is rich green or grayish-green.

The rhizome, which is the most valuable in the goat, has a cylindrical or subulate shape, has a fleshy and thickened outline. It is customary to eat it. The root covers a black or brownish peel, but the flesh is snow-white and rich in milky juice. The roots grow in the form of a rod with a rough surface. The length of the root of the scorpion reaches 30–40 cm, while its diameter varies within 3–4 cm, but its weight is 60–70 grams.

The goat will begin flowering when it is two years old. Flowers open between May and August. Like all representatives of the Astrov family, the scorzonera has a basket-shaped inflorescence. They are located singly on the tops of flowering stems. The size of the inflorescences is large. The length of the envelope reaches 2–3 cm. Its leaves are ovoid and pointed at the ends; there is a woolly pubescence at the edge. In the inflorescence, marginal (ligulate) flowers are painted in light or bright yellow color. Their length is one and a half times the size of the wrapper.

When blooming, scorzonera may have an aroma that resembles that of vanilla. Flowers bloom with the first rays of the sun, and by lunchtime their inflorescences are gradually closing. Each of the inflorescences contains up to 35 flowers.

Almost simultaneously with flowering, the fruit begins to ripen, but this time is stretched out in time, since flowering does not have a clear time frame (from May to September). The fruit is achene, which has a tuft and is colored brown. Its shape is cylindrical. The crest is represented by feathery hairs of a reddish-brown color. Seeds of "black carrots" are large in size, their length is 15–20 mm, with an average thickness of 1.5 mm.

Basically, the "black root" is usually used for food and medicinal needs, but its bright inflorescences-baskets can serve as a decoration for a summer flower bed. At the same time, the plant does not have any special requirements for care and reproduction.

Care of the scorzonera when grown in the open field

Scorzonera blooms
Scorzonera blooms
  1. Place for planting "black carrots". Before planting, you should make sure that cabbage has not been grown on this site, since after it the root vegetables of the scorpion can be distorted. You can plant in places of past growth of potatoes, cucumbers or onions and beans. A sunny location and lack of proximity to groundwater are preferred.
  2. Soil for scorzonera fertile, well-moisturized and loose are selected. It is preferable that the acidity values are not high (within the pH range of 6, 5–8, that is, neutral or slightly alkaline). Looseness should be ensured to a depth of at least 35–40 cm, since the length of the roots of the goat is exactly that. Before planting is carried out, it is recommended to prepare the soil - dig it up 40 cm, loosen it well, breaking large clods. Humus, double superphosphate, potassium chloride or Fertika Osennyaya are embedded in the substrate per 1 m2, in the following ratio of 3-5 kg: 30-40 grams: 80-100 grams.
  3. Planting scorzonera can be carried out both in spring (April-May) and before winter. Still, spring sowing gives the best results. All sowing schemes are listed in the section "Tips for breeding scorzonera". It is important to note that due to the slow germination rate, it will be possible to see goat seedlings not earlier than 12-15 days, and if watering is insufficient, then after 20 days. To protect against possible return frosts, crops are covered with non-woven material (for example, agrofibre or spunbond). If there is no such shelter, then you can use a simple transparent plastic wrap. When sowing scorzonera seeds in the first two weeks of August, the seedlings will rooting well until autumn and can remain for the winter, but they are provided with shelter from dry foliage or spruce branches. When sowing is carried out before winter, the seedlings will appear only with the establishment of spring heat. It should not be forgotten that during summer and winter sowing, scorzonera plants have a stemming feature. It is important to carry out regular thinning of the crops that have appeared, so that a distance of 15 cm remains between them. This is due to the fact that it happens that peduncles are formed on individual specimens, which must be removed. Also, a thickened planting will cause the size of the root crops to grind.
  4. Watering when caring for a scorzonera, they should be regular, especially if the weather is hot. It is important to keep the soil moist, but not to acidify it. When root crops ripen, watering should be plentiful, so that the soil is moistened to a depth of 35–40 cm. For this, moistening is performed in 2-3 passes.
  5. Fertilizer when growing scorzonera will be the key to its good development. Since the roots of the goat are long in shape, during cultivation the soil must be dug well and deeply, after which mineral fertilizing is introduced into it. They must contain high levels of potassium. So, for 1 hectare, it is recommended to maintain the following ratios of nutrients: nitrogen about 70 kg, phosphorus oxide about 90 kg, which is used in three runs: half before sowing, and a quarter after sowing in June and July, potassium oxide up to 180 kg. The preparations are thoroughly mixed with the substrate so that the development of the scorzonera takes place evenly, otherwise the root may develop poorly. There is information that manure cannot be used, but organic matter is used only in the second year of cultivation, so that the root does not acquire distorted outlines.
  6. General advice on care. When growing scorzonera, it should be noted that the plant is negatively affected by the weeds growing nearby and the soil surface, which is taken after watering or rain with a crust. Therefore, it is recommended to periodically weed and loosen the substrate. When the height of the plants reaches 7–8 cm, that is, the need for abundant watering and then the soil is mulched with peat crumbs, which will help the moisture not evaporate so quickly and delay the growth of weeds.
  7. How to harvest scorzonera. Depending on how the "black root" was cultivated, they start harvesting root crops at the end of the autumn period (in October or November) or already in October for the next growing season. It is possible to harvest in winter, but then the roots will lose their taste and useful qualities, and their color will not be so beautiful. Since the roots are fragile, the digging is done carefully, using a wide-angle pitchfork. If the root is damaged, then milky juice will flow out of it, and the pulp will become fibrous and its taste will decrease. When the roots of the scorchonera are removed, the tops should be immediately removed from them (its cut is carried out directly above the crown of the root) and then they are sent for storage. The room in which the goat root crops will be stored should have temperature indicators in the range of 0-1 degrees, while the humidity should vary within 95-98%. The roots are placed in a wooden container and sprinkled with a layer of slightly moistened sand.
  8. The use of scorchonera in landscape design. Although it is customary to cultivate the plant as a vegetable crop in the beds, thanks to the bright color of the inflorescences-baskets, it can become a decoration of the garden. Such goat bushes are planted in flower beds, used to decorate mixborders and in group flower plantings, in the central part of lawns. Can be used for growing in garden containers to decorate a terrace or balcony. It is recommended to plant asters and verbena, snapdragon and matthiola next to the scorzonera for decorative purposes, echinacea will look good nearby. Since the inflorescences differ in brightness and density, they are used to make bouquets, moreover, it is noted that they can stand in the form of "black carrot" flowers without fading for a couple of weeks.

Read also about the agricultural techniques of planting and caring for rudbeckia in the open field.

Scorpion breeding tips

Scorzonera in the ground
Scorzonera in the ground

All types of goat breed with the help of seeds. They can be sown directly into open ground before winter (in November) or in mid-spring - for non-chernozem zones in late April-early May, to the south - even earlier.

Scorchonera seeds for sowing

To obtain the seed material of the goat, it is recommended that when growing such specimens on the beds, leave for the winter 5–6 of them, which are characterized by the best development. If there is a desire to get seeds of higher quality, then for this, the best are selected from all plants, and then they are planted with the arrival of spring heat. Until that time, 10-15 bushes of the "black root" are sent for conservation, since most of them will disappear.


It is noted that those Scorzonera plants that are left for the winter develop much faster, they become quite powerful, and even when cultivated in the non-chernozem zone, their seeds ripen with the arrival of August.

The planting of Scorzonera mother plants is carried out in accordance with the 30x30 cm scheme. With subsequent care, regular watering and feeding of the plants is necessary. After flowering is complete, you can see achenes with crests at the top. When the ripening of the fruits is over, then thanks to such parachutes, the seeds will begin to fly out of the baskets. The seeds ripen for 5-6 months after the planting of root crops. It is recommended to collect baskets in several passes.

Reproduction of scorzonera by seeds

Since the seeds of "black carrots" very quickly lose their germination, it is recommended to take only fresh material for sowing. When planting, the row spacing should be approximately 20-25 cm. Seeding is carried out only 2-3 cm, while leaving 2-4 cm between the seeds. Some gardeners use the row method (line). Then, with a two-line scheme, half a meter is left between the belts, and the distance between the lines is maintained at 0.2 m. If single-line sowing is carried out, then the row spacing should be at least 45 cm. On 10 m2, approximately 20 grams of seed is used for sowing. The germination rate is rather long. Goat seedlings will appear after 14–20 days.


Since the seeds of scorzonera will go very uncommonly, so-called lighthouse crops are mixed into the seed mixture, that is, those that sprout very quickly, for example, radish or mustard, watercress or salad will do.

After 3-4 true leaf plates unfold on the scorpion seedlings, thinning is carried out in such a way that 5-8 cm remain between the plants. Then it is necessary to fertilize with ammonium nitrate, which is repeated twice more during the growing season. When thinning again, the distance between the seedlings of scorzonera should be kept 10-15 cm.

Protection against diseases and pests of scorpion when grown in the garden

Scorzonera grows
Scorzonera grows

Usually goat does not suffer from diseases or pests, but if the rules of cultivation are violated, problems of fungal origin may arise, provoked by waterlogging of the soil, dense planting or high humidity.

Such diseases in scorzonera are:

  • brown spot, the symptoms of which are brown spots appearing on the leaves;
  • powdery mildew, in which the foliage is covered with a whitish bloom, reminiscent of dried lime;
  • peronosporosis or downy mildew, manifested by yellowish specks on the leaf plates, gradually spreading to the entire leaf.

Fungicidal agents are used to treat these problems, but if you want to enjoy the harvest of Scorzonera root crops, then you should turn to folk methods of struggle, namely:

  • milk solution, when a liter of milk and 10 drops of iodine (5%) are dissolved in 9 liters of water;
  • onion peel tincture;
  • a weak solution of potassium permanganate;
  • tincture on wood ash.

The next problem might be gray mold or white rot, affecting mainly root crops of scorzonera during storage. It is important to periodically inspect and remove the affected specimens mercilessly.

It happens that pests attack the scorzonera. In the usual case, they are fought with the help of systemic insecticides, like Aktara or Karbofos, but you should not forget that after that, root crops are unsuitable for food, so you need to use folk methods of dealing with them. Among the pests are:

  1. Aphids, sucking the juices out of the leaves. To fight, spraying with soapy water based on detergent or laundry soap is carried out.
  2. Medvedok, which harm both roots and stems and foliage. To fight, the pests are poured with a solution of washing powder and water. Also, next to the bushes, scorpioners lay out heaps of fresh manure in the fall, where the bears crawl over the winter and then destroy such places at once. You can also put candied honey bottles inside, where pests will creep. Alder branches can be added to the site, scaring away the smell of bears.
  3. Wireworms, represented by the larvae of click beetles. They spoil root crops, and to combat it is recommended to carry out liming of the soil at the site of planting of the scorpion, water the soil with a solution from coltsfoot, dandelion or potassium permanganate. Crushed eggshells dipped in sunflower oil can be embedded in the soil.
  4. Naked slugs gnawing tender leaves and stems. For the fight, crushed eggshells are used, laying them out between the bushes, you can also use lime and chalk.

To avoid problems, some gardeners recommend, before sowing, treating seed material with a solution of T75, which is intended for root crops, which will serve to protect young scorzonera seedlings from gangrene.

Read also about the possible difficulties when growing tansy in the garden

Interesting notes for gardeners about the goat

Blooming Scorzonera
Blooming Scorzonera

The unique features of scorzonera have been identified for a long time. Since the substances included in its composition had the ability to stimulate the work of the heart and kidneys, helped to eliminate the problems associated with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, they were used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus (blood sugar level was regulated) and anemia. There was the possibility of exposure as an anesthetic and sedative. Goat roots could stimulate male potency and help in the fight against alcohol addiction.


For older people, taking Spanish scorchonera roots is not just desirable, but recommended more often. This is because the root vegetable helps to inhibit the onset and development of such age-related diseases as hypertension and heart problems, rheumatism and gout, type II diabetes and many others.

It is recommended to use as medicines:

  • juice from the pulp of scorchonera;
  • decoction from sheet plates;
  • decoction of root vegetables;
  • water or alcohol tincture on the roots;
  • boiled leaves are used for compresses;

tea based on crushed roots;

ointment from a powder obtained on the basis of dried root vegetables.


Scorchonera roots must be peeled immediately. After cleaning, they should be immediately put into cold water (you can add a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice), since they immediately turn dark in color.

Types and varieties of scorzonera

In the photo, Spanish Scorzonera
In the photo, Spanish Scorzonera

Spanish scorzonera (Scorzonera hispanica)

or Spanish goat, and also the species is called black or sweet root. The homeland of natural origin is considered to be in the southern European regions and southwestern Asia, but it spreads to almost all the lands of Europe, the Caucasian foothills and western Siberia, and can be found in Azerbaijan and Georgia. In nature, it prefers slopes in the steppes and from rocky or calcareous soil. It is a herbaceous perennial. Its stems are pubescent at first, gradually becoming naked.

The rhizome is fleshy and thick in the form of a cylinder. Its color is black. The height of the Spanish scorchonera stems varies within the range of 25–75 cm. The stems grow upright, densely leafy, with good branching. Their surface is bare or slightly webbed. At the base, the foliage is vaginal, elongated-lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate. It has a sharpening at the top, and a large number of veins on the surface. Leaves are painted in greenish or gray-green color scheme. The leaves in the central part of the stem are stalk-enveloping at the base, their shape is oblong-lanceolate. And at the very top of the stems, the foliage takes on subulate outlines.

The inflorescences of the Spanish scorchonera, opening in May-June, are basket-like. They are formed on the tops of the peduncles. The color of the reed flowers is yellow. The fruit is the marginal achene, which reaches 15–16 mm in length. On its surface, five ribs are visible in the form of pointed tubercles. The achenes have a fly. Ripening of fruits falls on the period May-June.

The best varieties of Spanish scorzonera, which are most popular among gardeners, are recognized:

  1. Overseas delicacy, characterized by mid-season. It has a raised rosette formed from leaves, the height of the plant is 17 cm with a diameter not exceeding 12 cm. The rosette is composed of medium-sized leaf plates. While the leaves are young, they can be used for salads. The root is in the form of a cylinder, the surface is painted in a dark brown tone. The length of the root reaches 35 cm, with a diameter of 2, 2–3, 2 cm. Weight will vary in the range of 100–130 grams. The pulp has a snow-white shade. The yield from 1 m2 reaches almost 2 kg.
  2. Healing. The harvest of this Spanish scorzonera variety can be obtained after 4 months from the moment of sowing. The leaf blades have elongated ovate outlines and long petioles that attach the leaves to the stems. Under the rising foliage of the rosette there is a long rhizome, characterized by a dark brown color. Its outline is conical, and its mass will not be more than 80 grams. The pulp has a snow-white shade and delicate taste, is characterized by juiciness, sweetish note, astringent properties are present. It can be used in culinary dishes. To some, the taste is reminiscent of asparagus.
  3. Russian giant. The length of the stem of this variety of Spanish scorzonera is 0.75 m. The foliage takes on ovoid and oblong outlines, through the leaves, spreading branches are formed. After a year of vegetation, flowering begins, in which the yellow inflorescences, made up of several baskets, open. The root shape is cylindrical, it contains a large amount of vitamins.
  4. Sunny premiere. Ripening of this variety of "black root" occurs after three and a half months. The plant has a vertically growing leaf rosette formed from elongated ovate plates with long petioles. The root crop has a length of 30–31 cm with a weight not exceeding 80 grams. The outlines of the rhizome are cylindrical, the diameter reaches 3 cm. The surface of this variety of Spanish scorzonera is painted in a dark brown color, while the flesh is tender and snow-white. From 1 m2, you can harvest up to 1.8 kg.
  5. Gypsy is famous for its dietary qualities and is recommended for use by people with diabetes mellitus. During the first year of life, the plant grows foliage rosettes, under which the root crop is hidden. It has a cylinder shape and a black surface. The length of the rhizome of this variety of Spanish scorzonera is 30 cm. The shade of the pulp is white, while it is rich in milky juice, its taste is sweetish, a little astringent. When the second growing season comes, the height of the stems reaches one and a half meters and their branching begins. When flowering occurs, the tops of the peduncles are decorated with large baskets, in which the petals have a yellow tint.
In the photo Scorzonera meadow
In the photo Scorzonera meadow

Scorzonera meadow (Scorzonera pratorum)

or Meadow goat, Goat meadows … The species was first described in 1949 by a botanist from Russia Sergey Sergeevich Stankov (1892-1962). Mainly has a Russian origin, but can be found in Kazakhstan. Prefers saline meadows and estuaries. Herbaceous perennial, the color of the deciduous mass of which has a bluish-green color. The height of the stem varies from 25 to 50 cm. The leaf plates in the root zone are characterized by the presence of elongated petioles, while the foliage is sessile on the stems themselves. The shape of the leaves is elongated lanceolate.

When flowering, the scorchonera meadow opens up bright yellow inflorescences-baskets, which are collected by 1-3 on each plant. The color of the leaves of the wrapper is light green, their surface is bare. Flowering occurs in the period June-July, after which the fruits ripen, which take the shape of naked hemicarps with a ribbed surface.

In the gardens, you can also find such species as the Austrian scorzonera (Scorzonera austriaca) and curly (Scorzonera crispa) or tuberous (Scorzonera tuberosa).

Related article: Tips for planting and caring for pyrethrum outdoors

Video about the cultivation and use of scorchonera:

Photos of scorzonera:

Photo of Scorzonera 1
Photo of Scorzonera 1
Photo of Scorzonera 2
Photo of Scorzonera 2
Photo of Scorzonera 3
Photo of Scorzonera 3
Photo of Scorzonera 4
Photo of Scorzonera 4
Photo of Scorzonera 5
Photo of Scorzonera 5