Tragopogon pratensis Linnaeus

Remark The words or terms in red (actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a glossary.


july_04_10.gthmb can't be loaded. Tragopogon pratensis is an adventive biennial plant. It is a low-growing rosette during the 1st year. During the 2nd year, it sends up one or more flowering stems 1 to 3 feet tall, with yellow flower heads. It is closely related to Tragopogon porrifolius (the Oyster Plant), which is grown as a vegetable because of its edible roots. However, this latter species has purple flower heads.

The species belongs to the Asteraceae family.

Name

In Greek τραγοσ (tragos) means goat and πωγων (pôgôn) means beard, so that Tragopogon would be a goatee! and would refer to whatever you like...

In Latin, pratensis means of meadow, of field, that is born in a meadow, in a field. And Tragopogon pratensis is most often found in vacant lots, roadsides, fields, and other recently disturbed habitats.

Common names

Some of the vernacular names of Tragopogon pratensis are: Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, Yellow Goatsbeard, Showy Goat's-beard, Goat's Beard, Meadow Salsify, Salsify, Wild Oyster Plant, Noon Flower, Pukinparta and Meadow Goat's Beard. In French it is know as Salsifis des prés, Salsifis sauvage or Barbe de bouc, the later translating the genus name.

Synonyms

Tragopogon pratensis has also been known as:

Identification

jun_01_02j.gthmb can't be loaded. Tragopogon pratensis is herbaceous plant which can reach 90 cm (3 feet) in height. It is very conspicuous when mature. Its yellow-green flower heads, that appear in early summer and continue into mid summer are quite disctinctive, which is true too of its fructification that looks like that of the dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) but is even bigger.

Tragopogon pratensis is quite similar to Tragopogon dubious but the later has a swelling in the stem just beneath the flower head, Tragopogon pratensis lacks this swelling. Tragopogon pratensis has about 8 floral bracts that extend to the outer margin of the flower head (or slightly beyond in some cases), while Tragopogon dubious has about 13 floral bracts that extend considerably beyond the outer margin of the flower head. Also, the foliage of Tragopogon dubious has a tendency to be more pale green or blue-green in color, and its flower heads are also a paler yellow-green. Furthermore Tragopogon pratensis is quite common in Québec while Tragopogon dubious is quite uncommon.

Description

Tragopogon pratensis grows from a basal rosette in the first year when the long fleshy taproot is established. During the second year, it sends up one or more flowering stems. These stems branch sparingly above the withered remains of the rosette.

Stems

Leaves

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Flower heads

Fructification

Habitat

Mesic black soil prairies, weedy meadows near woodlands, grasslands, areas along roads and railroads, vacant lots, and miscellaneous waste areas. Grows in full sun, with average to above average levels of moisture. In sterile soil, where this plant also occurs, it is usually smaller in size.

Distribution

Tragopogon pratensis is found throughout most of North America, but nearly absent from the southeastern United States. In Canada it is found in all provinces, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. In Europe, including Britain, it is found from Scandinavia north, and south to Spain. map_na.jpg can't be loaded. The map, from Flora of North America shows the US States and Canadian provinces where Tragopogon pratensis can be found.

Remarks

The bitter white latex of the foliage deters the consumption of this plant by mammalian herbivores to some extent.

The roots have a sweet flavour due to their inulin content. The young roots can be eaten raw whilst older roots are best cooked like parsnips or salsify. Young leaves and shoots, raw or cooked, can be added to mixed salads or used in soups. The leaves are best used as they come into growth in the spring. The flowering stem, including the buds, is cooked and served like asparagus.

An infusion of the petals can be used to clear the skin and lighten freckles. A distilled water made from the plant is used in cleansing lotions for dry skins.

Tragopogon pratensis is considered to be a useful remedy for the liver and gallbladder. It appears to have a detoxifying effect and may stimulate the appetite and digestion. Its high inulin content makes this herb a useful food for diabetics since inulin is a nutrient made of fructose rather than glucose units and therefore does not raise blood sugar levels. The root is astringent, depurative, diuretic, expectorant, nutritive and stomachic. A syrup made from the root gives great relief in cases of obstinate coughs and bronchitis. A decoction of the root is given in the treatment of heartburn, loss of appetite and disorders of the breast or liver. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The fresh juice of young plants is said to be a good dissolver of bile, relieving the stomach without side effects.

Gallery

The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following: The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken, i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.

The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter:

and if there is no letter it's obviously the Minolta.

Click on the thumbnails to get larger view. The original photos are usually in TIFF format, the photos shown are generally in JPEG format, usually of dimension one half (surface one quarter) for loading time reduction.

Plants

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Flower heads

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Fructification and seeds

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