yellow goat's beard (Tragopogon dubius)
yellow goat's beard
Western goat's beard
Tragopogon dubius ssp. major (Jacq.) Voll
Tragopogon majus Jacq.
Tragopogon tauricus Klokov
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name of yellow goat's
beard is Tragopogon dubius Scop. Tragopogon dubius appears to prefer
drier habitats than other Tragopogon spp. (Goat's Beards). Two species,
Tragopogon dubius and Tragopogon pratensis, are very similar inappear-
ance and can b e difficult to tell apart. However, while Tragopogon
pratensis is often found in grassy areas along roadside ditches, Trago-
pogon dubius typically occurs along railroads in dry gravelly areas. In
addition, Tragopogon pratensis has floral bracts that are shorter and fewer
in number (there are about 8 bracts that extend to the outer margin of the
ray florets, but usually not beyond), and its foliage tends to be less pale
than the foliage of Tragopogon. The other species in this genus, Trago-
pogon porrifolius (oyster plant), is sometimes cultivated as a root vegeta-
ble in gardens, from where it occasionally escapes. However, the flower-
heads of the oyster plant are purple, rather than yellow. Fortunately, only
Tragopogon dubius is the only member of the Tragopogon genus listed in
the Atlas of Virginia Flora as occurring in Facquier County.
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This adventive plant is usually a biennial that consists of a rosette
of basal leaves during the 1st year. During the 2nd year, it sends up one or
more flowering stalks about 1-3' tall that are little branched. The round
stems are glabrous, often becoming somewhat enlarged at the base of the
Leaves: These alternate leaves are up to 1' long and ¾" across, becoming
smaller as they ascend the stems. They are linear-lanceolate, glabrous, and
smooth along the margins. Each leaf has parallel venation and strongly
clasps the stem at its base. The basal leaves are similar in appearance to
the cauline leaves. Both the stems and leaves are pale greyish green or blu-
ish green, and they contain a white milky latex.
Flowers: The upper stems terminate in long naked flowering stalks, each
stalk producing a single flowerhead. The flowering stalk becomes enlarged
underneath the flowerhead. Each flowerhead is about 2" across, consisting
of numerous ray florets that are pale yellow and about 13 linear-lanceolate
floral bracts that are about the same color as the stems and leaves. These
floral bracts extend beyond the outer margin of the flowerhead as defined
by the ray florets. The outer ray florets are substantially longer than the
inner ray florets. Each ray floret has an outer tip with 5 small teeth; it is
either truncated or rounded. At the base of each ray floret, there is a colum-
nar reproductive structure consisting of a style that is divided at its tip and
several black anthers that are appressed together around the middle of the
style. The flowerheads open during the early morning, but become closed
by the afternoon.
Fruit/Seeds: Each ray floret is replaced by a linear achene that has a thread-
like beak, to which is attached a tuft of hairs. These hairs are slightly branch-
ed and plumose. They are usually white oward the base, but become tawny
brown toward their tips. Collectively, these tufts of hair form a spherical
ball about 3" across. Distribution of the achenes is by the wind.
Roots: The root system consists of a fleshy taproot.
REGENERATION PROCESS: This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include areas along railroads and roadsides,
dry weedy meadows, vacant lots, pastures, and waste areas. This plant
prefers disturbed areas. It is adventive Eurasia, and is now common in
the northern Great Plains and many areas of the Midwest.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: The preference is full sun, mesic to dry
conditions, and poor soil that contains sand, clay, or gravel. This plant
will also grow in fertile loam, where it will become taller.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from late
spring to mid-summer, usually for April through July.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Yellow goat's beard is found throughout
the United States with the exception of some areas in southeastern region,
and is found in all Canadian provinces with the exception of the northern
territories and Newfoundland.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar and pollen of the flowerheads
attract various bees and flies. Because the milky white latex of the foliage
is bitter, this plant is usually avoided by livestock and other mammalian
Crooked Run Valley