Tragopogon pratensis (Meadow Goat's Beard)

Plant Info
Also known as: Showy Goat's-beard, Meadow Salsify, Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:biennial
Habitat:sun; roadsides, disturbed sites, waste places, fields
Bloom season:May - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals

[photo of flower] Solitary flower at the top of the stem and at the end of the few branching stems. Flowers are 1 to 2½ inches across with many yellow dandelion-type ray flowers (petals). The 8 (occasionally more) green bracts that surround the flower are as long as or shorter than the petals.

[photo of bracts] The stem just below the receptacle may be slightly inflated when the plant is fruiting, but not when flowering. The flowers open on sunny mornings and close by noon. The closed flowers resemble a thin pod.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of upper leaf] Leaves are grass-like blades, to ¾ inch wide at the base and up to 1 foot long becoming smaller as they ascend the stem, toothless, generally smooth, almost waxy though may have very fine, sparse hairs when young, Leaves abruptly narrow near the base then gradually taper to a pointed tip, and clasp the stem. Leaves are usually coiled or curved at the tip, often in tight curls on upper leaves. Stems are smooth, green or with a whitish cast, may branch near the base of the plant or have multiple flowering stems.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a giant dandelion-type plume about 3 inches across; the brown seed has a tuft of whitish hairs to carry them off in the wind.


Meadow Goat's Beard is very similar in appearance to Yellow Goat's-beard, Tragopogon dubius, and found in similar habitats but is not as common in Minnesota as T. dubius. T. pratensis can be distinguished by deeper yellow flowers, the narrower stem just below the receptacle, bracts not extending beyond the rays, and the curling of leaf blade tips.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk, taken in Fillmore and Kanabec counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Judy - western Hennepin County (Minnetrista)
on: 2015-06-05 22:11:37

First of all, THANK YOU for a terrific website! This is a pretty plant but very aggressive and spreading in our old hayfield. We'd like to eradicate it but don't want to use herbicides. If a true biennial, as you note, then I should be able to get rid of it over time by removing flower heads before seeds are set, correct? That's a whole lot easier than pulling, which is fun and relatively easy to do after a rain but becomes hard work after a few hours. My concern is that another website mentioned these plants taking up to 10 years before bolting and flowering! That sounds like a perennial to me. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks for your time :-)

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-06-06 05:46:29

Judy, if you don't want to use herbicides then your only options are pulling and dead-heading. USDA lists it as a biennial, though as happens with many biennials, seeds may be viable but not germinate for some number of years.

Posted by: Karla McKenzie - Dakota County---Lebanon Hills Regional Park
on: 2019-06-07 16:03:26

We saw this plant in Lebanon Hills Regional Park. There were several in a disturbed area near Jensen Lake.

Posted by: Brenda Babcock
on: 2020-06-04 12:34:20

In my area the flower closes around 11:00 every morning. It has a flowering period of about 2 weeks before beginning to seed. Interestingly, the goats beard in my area does not curl its leaves, but has all other characteristics.

Posted by: Betsy - White Bear Lake
on: 2020-06-07 12:37:55

We have seen them along the road in our town. I do have a question though. I feel these would be pretty when "gone to seed" next to large pink poppies but it's hard to say if these weeks will align in the garden. Does anyone have a general idea what weeks in Minnesota they go to seed??? Thank you!😊��😊

Posted by: CJ - Minneapolis (Edina/Richfield)
on: 2022-07-04 19:39:39

Hi, Betsy. I know it's been two years, but in answer to your question, these plants are in seed now in my area in the first week of July. They are dramatic seed heads! (Today is July 4th and they're starting to blow away...)

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