GOAT'S BEARD
File Size: 69 KB
 
Tragopogon dubius  Scop.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Chase County, Kansas
Biennial or short-lived perennial
Height: 1-3 feet
Family: Asteraceae - Sunflower Family
Flowering Period:   May, June, July
Also Called: Western salsify.
Stems: Erect, 1 to several, sparingly branched, unevenly white-woolly when young, glabrous when mature; sap milky.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, sessile, clasping, narrowly linear, almost grass-like, to 12 inches long, mostly less than 1/4 inch wide, gradually tapered from bases to tips; margins entire.
Inflorescences: Heads, solitary, to 2 inches wide, terminal, on long, hollow stalks expanded just below heads; bracts usually 13, linear-lanceolate, 1 to 1.5 inch long, exceeding ray florets, bending downward at maturity.
Flowers: Florets numerous, ray-like, around 1 inch long, pale yellow.
Fruits: Achenes, slender, 1 to 1.5 inch long, tapering into stout beaks, brown, tipped with numerous, white to off-white, feather-like bristles, enclosing small seed.
Habitat: Disturbed sites, roadsides, edges of grain fields, and waste areas.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas.
Forage Value: Livestock graze goat's beard when it is immature.
Uses: The edible roots are said to have the flavor of parsnip or oysters, and the milky latex was chewed as gum.
Comments: The fruiting head resembles a giant dandelion, with a large white puffball of plumed seeds. The common name "goat's beard" is an allusion to the hair-like bristles that top each achene. It is not an aggressive weed.

Goat's beard inflorescence
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Goat's beard leaves
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Goat's beard head in fruit
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Goat's beard bracts
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Riley County, Kansas
Goat's beard leaves
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Riley County, Kansas
Goat's beard achenes
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Chase County, Kansas
Goat's beard
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Chase County, Kansas
Goat's beard
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Mitchell County, Kansas
Goat's beard
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Mitchell County, Kansas
Goat's beard
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Russell County, Kansas
Goat's beard
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Riley County, Kansas
Goat's beard pappus
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Morris County, Kansas