meadow salsify

(Tragopogon pratensis)

Conservation Status

meadow salsify

  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed


Meadow salsify is a 16 to 32 tall, erect, biennial forb that rises on one or more stems from a fleshy taproot.

In its first year it shows only a rosette of basal leaves. In the second year it sends up one to five sparingly branched, sparsely-leaved stems that terminate in a single flowering stalk with a solitary flower head.

The stems are erect and usually branched near the top. They are often covered with a whitish, waxy bloom (glaucous). They usually have patches of white, woolly or cobwebby hairs when young and are hairless or almost hairless at maturity. The stems and leaves exude a milky sap when broken.

Basal leaves are grass-like, linear, up to 12 long, and stalkless. They are rounded and wide at the base, up to ¾ wide, then abruptly narrowed and tapered evenly to the tip. They are sometimes strongly curved backward, often coiled, toward the tip. The upper and lower surfaces are usually glaucous. They are hairy with woolly or cobwebby hairs when young, and hairless or almost hairless at maturity. The margins are untoothed. Basal leaves are sometimes withered by flowering time.

Stem leaves are alternate. They surround the stem (clasp) at the base and are otherwise similar to basal leaves. They become progressively smaller as they ascend the stem.

The inflorescence is a solitary, 1 to 2½ wide flower head at the end on a long, leafless flower stalk (peduncle). The flower stalk is not swollen below the flower head. There are usually 8 bracts at the base of the flower head. The bracts do not extend beyond the outer margin of the rays. Occasionally, there are 12 bracts. There are usually 50 to 110, sometimes more, ray florets. The ray florets are lemon yellow to bright yellow and to 1 long. The flower heads open in the morning and are closed by the afternoon.

The fruiting head is a whitish, spherical pappus, 3 to 3½ in diameter, resembling a large dandelion. The peduncle occasionally becomes slightly inflated toward the tip when the plant is in fruit.




16 to 32


Flower Color


Bright yellow


Similar Species


Yellow goat's beard (Tragopogon dubius) leaves are straight, not curved backward or coiled. The peduncle is inflated at the tip when the plant is in flower. There are usually 13, occasionally 8, bracts. The bracts usually extend well beyond the ray florets. The ray florets are pale yellow. It is found in drier habitats.


Moderate moisture. Roadsides, railroads, disturbed sites. Full sun.




May to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




Native to western Asia and to Europe. Introduced and naturalized in North America.





  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Cichorioideae (chicories, dandelions, and allies)  
  Tribe Cichorieae (lettuce, chicory, dandelion, and salsify)  
  Subtribe Scorzonerinae  
  Genus Tragopogon (salsifies)  

The use of the name Tragopogon pratensis for the introduced North American species may prove to be incorrect.


Subordinate Taxa






Tragopogon lamottei

Tragopogon orientalis

Tragopogon pratensis ssp. orientalis

Tragopogon pratensis ssp. pratensis


Common Names





lesser goat’s-beard

meadow salsify


showy goat’s-beard

yellow goat’s-beard










Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



Describing a leaf that wholly or partly surrounds the stem but does not fuse at the base.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



Lance-shaped; much longer than wide, thickest toward the base, and gradually tapering toward the tip.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



The modified calyx composed of awns, scales, bristles, or feather-like hairs in plants of the Aster family such as thistles and dandelions.



The stalk of a single flower or flower cluster.

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Flower Head

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  Tragopogon pratensis COMMON GOAT'S BEARD
Frank Mayfield
  Tragopogon pratensis COMMON GOAT'S BEARD  



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Other Videos
  Oriental Salsify (Tragopogon pratensis subsp. orientalis) - 2012-06-25

Published on Jun 27, 2012

Oriental Salsify (Tragopogon pratensis subsp. orientalis).

De oosterse morgenster (Tragopogon pratensis subsp. orientalis) is een vaste plant uit de composietenfamilie (Asteraceae).

  Flower Time Lapse (Samsung SMX-F40)

Uploaded on Jun 7, 2011

Tragopogon pratensis.

  The Opening of the Giant Dandelion
Camilla Pandolfi

Uploaded on Jun 9, 2011

Meadow Salsify




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