Scientific Name: Tragopogon dubius

Common Name: western salsify

Other Common Names: yellow salsify, goat's-beard, yellow goat's-beard

Synonyms: Tragopogon dubius ssp. major, Tragopogon major

Habit: Reproducing only by seed, seedlings have hairless arched grass-like cotyledons. The hairless 1 m stems arise from a deep fleshy taproot and all parts contain a milky white juice.

Leaves: Stalkless grass-like leaves are 5-30 cm long and clasp the stem. The fleshy, bluish green leaves are hairless.

Identifying Characteristics: 7-10 cm diameter globe-like fruiting head, grass-like leaves and milky juice distinguish this plant.

Flower Seed Head: Single flower heads follow the sun through the morning, closing mid-afternoon and on cloudy days. Yellow ray florets surrounded by a single row of 10-14 floral bracts longer than the ray florets make up the flower heads.

Seed Fruit: Each flower head produces a globe shaped fruiting head measuring 7-10 cm across. Each floret yields a single-seeded achene 25-35 mm long with a pappus of feathery webbed hairs. Dull brown and spindle shaped, the seeds are 2.3-3 cm long.. Each specimen may produce as many as 500 seeds.

Where Found: Throughout Canada and the United States, goat's-beard is often a concern in fall seed crops due to the basal rosette of leaves produced by its biennial phase of life. Goat's-beard also frequents roadsides and waste areas.

  • Life cycle: biennial

  • Milky sap: Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Asteraceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: lance; needle

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: white; yellow

  • Growth habit: upright and nonwoody

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower symmetry: radial symetery

  • Flower diameter: half dollar; larger; quarter

  • Root structure: fibrous; taproot

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf; none