Tragopogon pratensis Linnaeus
The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
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
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.
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
Tragopogon pratensis has also been known as:
- Tragopogon leiocarpos Saut.
- Tragopogon pratensis L. forma roseomarginatus Thell.
- Tragopogon shuttleworthii Godet
- Tragopogon undulatus Thuill.
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
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.
Tragopogon pratensis grows from a
basal rosette in the first year
when the long fleshy taproot
During the second year, it sends up one or more flowering stems.
These stems branch sparingly above the withered remains of the rosette.
- 1 to 3 feet tall.
- Round, hairless, and often somewhat enlarged at the base of each leaf.
- Terminating in a long naked stalk bearing a single flower head.
- Containing a white latex.
becoming smaller as they ascend the stems.
- Grass-like, lanceolate-linear.
- Clasping the stem.
- With smooth margins.
- With parallel veins.
- Up to 1 foot long and 1 inch across,
with their elongated tips often curled backwards.
- Containing a white latex.
- Held at the end of a long stem.
- About 1 to 2.5 inches wide.
- Surrounded by long, pointed, green
bracts, most commonly 8,
mostly 12 to 24 mm long in flower, equaling or shorter than the rays,
elongating to 18 to 38 mm in fruit.
- With numerous yellow-green
5-notched at the tips, self-fertile.
- The outer florets noticeably longer than the inner florets.
- Each floret with a columnar reproductive structure consisting
of a yellow divided style
and black anthers
that are appressed together around the middle of the style.
- Opening in the morning and closing in midday, usually by noon,
hence the common name Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon.
- Blooming mainly from the end of June and in July,
although some individuals flower as late as September.
by various kinds of bees and flies.
with plumose pappus forming
a large spheroid ball that spans up to 4 inches across.
- The white pappus at the base becoming dull brown toward the tip.
- By means of the pappus,
the seeds are wafted by the wind and freely scattered.
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.
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.
The map, from Flora of North America shows the US States
and Canadian provinces where Tragopogon pratensis can be found.
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
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
nutritive and stomachic.
A syrup made from the root gives great relief in cases of obstinate coughs and
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.
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.
- Fuji Mx 700.
- Minolta DiMAGE 7.
- Nikon 2200.
- EPSON Perfection 1650 scanner.
The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter:
and if there is no letter it's obviously the Minolta.
- f for the Fuji.
- n for the Nikon.
- s for the EPSON scanner.
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.
Fructification and seeds
The seeds were scanned at 300 dpi,
this allows to measure the dimensions of the seeds.