Ontario Weeds: Goat's beard

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Leaves
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links
Name: Goat's-beard, Tragopogon dubius Scop.,

Other Names: Western goat's-beard, Yellow goat's-beard, salsifis majeur, Tragopogon major Jacq.

Family: Composite or Aster Family (Compositae

General Description: Biennial, occasionally annual or short-lived perennial, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Goat's beard

Goat's beard. A. Plant before flowering. B. Flower heaf about to open. C. Flower heaf in full bloom.
Goat's beard. A. Plant before flowering.
B. Flower heaf about to open. C. Flower heaf in full bloom.

D. Mature "seed" head. E. 1 "seed".
D. Mature "seed" head. E. 1 "seed".

Stems & Leaves: Stems 30-100cm (12-40in.) high, smooth, round, somewhat fleshy, from a deeply penetrating, thick taproot; stemless, juvenile annual plants and first-year biennials without stems resemble shoots of grass; Leaves - alternate (1 per node), long, linear, very grass-like but smooth and fleshy rather than firm or harsh; younger leaves somewhat downy-hairy; dry, brown, shriveled leaves from the previous year's rosette frequently persisting around the base of leafy-stemmed and flowering plants;

Flowers & Fruit: Flower heads large, 4-6cm (1¾-2¼in.) across, showy, pale lemon-yellow, borne singly at ends of stems and branches (resembling Meadow goat's-beard); stalk at the base of the flower head very thick, hollow, tapering gradually downwards to normal stem thickness; involucral bracts usually 10 or more, green, 2.5-4cm (1-¾in.) long at flowering, elongating to about 7.5cm (3in.) or longer as the seeds mature; only ray (strap-shaped) florets present, the outer ones opening first and the unopened inner florets somewhat resembling disk florets; flower heads opening and pointing towards the sun each morning, twisting slightly and following the sun until midday, and closing during the afternoon; mature seed head a white, fluffy sphere, 7-10cm (3-4in.) in diameter; each seed including its slender beak about 3cm (1¼in.) long and tipped with a white, umbrella-like circle of feathery bristles (pappus); whole plant, except the seed, with a white, milky juice. Flowers in June and July and occasionally continues until September.

Habitat: Goat's-beard occurs throughout Ontario in pastures, meadows, roadsides and occasionally gardens.

Similar Species: Flowering plants are distinguished by their long, smooth, slender grass-like leaves, their lemon yellow flower heads surrounded by usually 10 or more, slender, tapering, green involucral bracts which are longer than the yellow florets,their thick, hollow, gradually tapering stalks below the flower heads, and their large, spherical seed heads. Non-flowering plants are distinguished by their erect, fleshy. smooth-textured, grass-like leaves with milky juice, the leaves usually long, gradually tapering, and not having crisped or wrinkled margins, and their long, tapering taproots.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control


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For more information:
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E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2002
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003