Tragopogon dubius (Yellow Goat's Beard)

Plant Info
Also known as: Yellow Salsify, Fistulous Goat's-beard
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:biennial
Habitat:sun; dry fields, along roads
Bloom season:May - September
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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals

[photo of flower] Single flower at the top of the plant and at the end of the few branching stems. Flowers are up to 2 inches across with many pale lemon yellow dandelion-type ray flowers (petals). The (usually) 13 green bracts that surround the flower are much longer than the petals.

[photo of phyllaries (bracts)] The stem just below the bracts thickens to nearly as wide as the receptacle. The flowers open on sunny mornings and close by noon. The closed flowers resemble a thin pod, up to 5 inches long.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are grass-like blades, about ½ inch wide and up to 1 foot long, often folded lengthwise, toothless and hairless, gradually tapering to a pointed tip, clasping the stem. Stems are smooth, green or brownish, may branch near the base of the plant or have multiple flowering stems. The stems exude a milky sap when broken.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Seed head is a giant dandelion-type plume, 3 inches in diameter, with light brown hairs attached to the seed.


Yellow Goat's-beard is probably found in every county in Minnesota, though there are no official records for a handful of counties. It is not as aggressive as many other non-natives, though it does invade prairie habitat easily enough and is often found scattered in sunny locations. When the sun hits the seed head, it glistens with a pale bronze color and is quite attractive. A similar species, Tragopogon pratensis (Meadow Goat's-beard), also non-native, has brighter yellow flowers, bracts that are as long as or shorter than the rays, and leaves that curl at the tip.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton, MN. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.


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

Posted by: Laura
on: 2008-06-26 09:29:14

Saw this in Stearns County in St. Cloud by Whitney Field and couldn't find it in my Wildflowers of Minnesota book.

Posted by: Laura
on: 2008-06-26 10:21:08

Sorry, I was mistaken. It is on page 353 of my Wildflowers of Minnesota book (by Stan Tekiela).

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2008-06-26 19:01:18

Laura, Stan's book is nice for beginners because it has some lovely photos in it. In fact, it was my first wildflower field guide and really helped spark my interest in native plants. When you're ready to expand your horizons, I recommend Newcomb's Wildflower Guide, available in most book stores. It uses illustrations instead of photos, which can actually make identification easier once you learn how to use the key.

Posted by: Daniel - SouthWoods
on: 2009-06-07 12:56:13

We have many plants in our orchard and earthen wall. Both are disturbed soils with heavy clay.

Posted by: Terri
on: 2009-06-09 12:08:19

Thank you for helping to identify the plant that randomly showed up on the edge of my flower bed. I have also seen it naturally scattered about at the Gateway Trail community garden in St. Paul.

Posted by: P.A. - Bemidji
on: 2009-09-13 23:35:56

I have a single one growing in the middle of my garden and my mother always tries to yank it. I like the way it looks though!

Posted by: Leah - Maplewood
on: 2010-02-08 11:27:40

We have several of these in our meadow and they often pop up in the lawn. They are beautiful and have great seed heads. I had assumed they were native because there is a nice photo of one on a MN tourist magazine.

Posted by: Gregg - Powderhorn Park, South Minneapolis
on: 2010-05-24 20:10:21 is a particularly splendid photo of this, useful for identifying it. Was hoping it was native, but now I have a new enemy!

Posted by: dan - Minneopa State Park
on: 2010-07-03 07:09:26

The mapping tool was not available but I found many of them in Minneopa State Park in Blue Earth County which has not yet been highlighted. is it the county where the MN river turns back north and is shaped like a triangle.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2010-07-07 09:34:33
Dan, if you are referring to the county distribution maps on the USDA Plants web site, just because a county is not highlighted doesn't mean the species isn't present there. The maps are known to be a bit outdated, but they are primarily created from plant specimen records at the UM Bell Herbarium. If nobody collects a specimen from a particular county, there is no official record of its existence.

As of this writing, there is no record of poison ivy in Ramsey county, but you can hardly walk in any woods in the county without wading through masses of it. ;)

Posted by: Robyn - Litchfield
on: 2011-06-13 23:24:01

Found this growing along Lake Ripley in Litchfield.

Posted by: James - Bemidji
on: 2011-07-04 15:17:24

By the road, running alongside Fox Lake, North of Bemidji.

Posted by: Bailey - West Ottertail County
on: 2011-08-09 20:12:07

I see this plant is not native to Minnesota, so I am wondering why Glendalough State Park requested voluteers to help spread the plant in an area of prarie restoration? I personally helped reseed this plant, and am confused about why we would reseed it when its not native.

Posted by: Trista - Cotton, MN
on: 2012-06-11 14:22:50

Saw a scattering of these growing on my friend's septic field. Some of them were huge! Never have seen them before...unless I just haven't paid attention.

Posted by: Laura - Winona
on: 2012-06-14 16:22:44

My kids found these growing along the alley behind our house. My son picked one with a big puffy seed head and brought it to me because he thought it was cool-looking. My daughter helped me to identify the flower on your site. Thanks!

Posted by: Sue - Duluth
on: 2013-07-16 14:16:07

Wow! I was inspecting our hay fields to see if it was time to cut and oh my goodness!!! I saw the biggest dandelion ahead of me! Upon my closer sighting of this super dandelion, I soon saw it was no dandelion at all. Well, because I didn't know what it was and didn't want it in the hay for the sheep, I got the shovel and bucket. I did take several pictures. Now I found out what it is...yellow goat's beard! It was the only one and a surprise, because we have been haying those fields for 24 years and have never seen this plant! Thanks for all your help!

Posted by: Joann - Ramsey
on: 2014-05-30 09:29:12

My Mom used to collect the huge Dandelion-type seed heads, spray them with hairspray and then spray paint, and use them in "cut-flower arrangements." Nice memory!

Posted by: randall - red wing goodhue co
on: 2014-06-16 14:05:57

These seem to be quite plentiful this year. Am I to consider these as weeds or simply let them grow as wildflowers?

Posted by: Allan - International Falls, at Rainy Lake
on: 2014-06-18 08:32:24

These have long grown along our road. I always thought they were the oyster plant, but I now know they are only related.

Posted by: Dan - Ottertail County
on: 2015-06-19 11:31:22

Blooming now!

Posted by: Domonic S - Dakota County
on: 2017-05-26 11:12:59

Extremely Sandy soil location. side of farm field. In southern Dakota county.

Posted by: Barry A - Granite Falls bluff leading down to Minnesota River
on: 2017-06-08 22:06:27

After years of removing buckthorn and sumac, it was nice to see this flower. It looks like it is coming back with vigor, I wish the native grasses did as well.

Posted by: George M - Red Wing, Goodhue County
on: 2017-06-15 16:42:26

I have one plant that showed up this year on the sunny edge of my wildflower planting. I've never seen it in 16 years of living here and grooming wildflowers. It is a beautiful plant. The flowers seem to close up during the day. I will try to propagate from the seeds.

Posted by: Nancy - Roseville
on: 2017-06-17 11:35:56

Very sandy soil. It has gone rapid in my butterfly garden over the last 2 years.

Posted by: Jennifer B. - Robbinsdale - Hennepin County
on: 2017-06-19 00:22:33

This showed up in one of my east facing garden beds, backyard, city lot. I'm strictly perennial, so I'm not sure how it got there.

Posted by: Jim B - Alexandria, MN
on: 2017-06-30 20:41:05

I found 2 plants 50 feet apart in a ditch within 50 yards of Lake Carlos on East Lake Carlos Drive.

Posted by: Toni Q - Iowa
on: 2018-05-14 22:52:04

The last two years this goats beard plant has been growing in my yard Iam from southeast Iowa,I think it's a beautiful plant

Posted by: - Sherburne County: Big Lake
on: 2018-06-02 10:12:32

Single plant found in my yard in Big Lake (Sherburne County.) Picked by my 3 year old and currently in a vase.

Posted by: Jennifer T - Arden Hills
on: 2018-06-06 22:58:23

I believe this is growing right by the parking lot entrance at the Columbia Heights library, along with the native grasses, sedges, and diervilla.

Posted by: Sharon L Adams - North Branch
on: 2018-06-08 14:47:37

I have seen many of these wildflowers along my walking path in my neighborhood.

Posted by: Valerie McCullough - Elk River, Sherburne County
on: 2018-06-11 06:43:13

Single plant showed up in my perennial garden this year.

Posted by: Sue Schiess - NE Hubbard County
on: 2018-06-13 19:20:18

It's popping up many places in my rocky/sandy soil this year, both full and part-sun areas. I pulled the first ones I found but am allowing three to blossom. Among other things, I'm eager to see if the pollinators care about it.

Posted by: JInx - Central Iowa
on: 2019-06-04 14:41:11

Thanks for posting this.. I have about a dozen of these in my wildflower garden this year.. Not sure where they came from. We spent hours trying to identify this plant. Is it a weed or a wild flower? Will it invade my wildflowers?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-06-04 15:17:59

JInx, it is a non-native wildflower so consider it a weed, though it isn't very aggressive. It is not likely to take over your garden but feel free to eradicate it. No great loss.

Posted by: BernieAnn Manifold - Clear Lake
on: 2019-06-24 20:19:50

Watching a group of closed goat's-beard plants for days. The flowers have been closed because of all the cloudy days (I've assumed). And "poof" they all go to seed heads! Because they're a biennial? I thought I'd see the yellow flower and then the seed head like a dandelion. Also, one plant had a single flower, 1 huge seed head and several pods yet remain closed. What?????

Posted by: Lorna - Crookston
on: 2020-06-14 08:49:26

I found about 6 of these in my turn around.fairy garden.I think they are beautiful and cool how they are kind if spaced evenly around my little pond. These stories are awesome. It was a MN flower lovers group who informed me of what these were. Thank you for this group also

Posted by: Barb Neal - Farmington, Dakota Co.
on: 2020-07-03 07:34:13

Many of these in a small city preserve behind my apartment complex.

Posted by: Susan - Steele County - East of Owatonna
on: 2020-08-06 13:47:51

Planted some new Daylilies last fall. This year when they came up this came up too. They just started blooming. I have been trying to figure out if they were weeds or not. They are perennial, but not sure if I want it in my flowerbed?

Posted by: Jerry Robertson - South Maplewood
on: 2021-05-31 14:54:49

Found a number of these along the walking path Fish Creek park in the south end of Maplewood. Kind of a bummer if they are invasive as they are a neat looking flower.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-05-31 15:56:56

Jerry, I wouldn't call them invasive since they don't seem to grow in large or dense populations, just scattered here and there.

Posted by: Jacqueline - Andover
on: 2021-06-19 16:46:06

Found growing by my mailbox. Dry Sandy soil in full sun. Love the unusualness of this plant. Hope it repopulated in the yard

Posted by: LeAnne Jergensen - Minnetonka
on: 2021-06-28 07:47:34

Found my first one during my walk thru my flowers in the yard. I mostly have native, but have a few non invasive non native flowers. Think I'll keep this one.

Posted by: Jennifer Holt - St Paul
on: 2021-10-07 08:32:05

Practically my whole front yard. It was a rental prior to me purchasing and the tiered front yard is out of control. They are a pretty flower when in bloom, but too many of them taking over and now look horrible. I guess I need to treat it as a weed?

Posted by: Carlyle Davidsen - Anoka County
on: 2021-11-05 14:34:12

Emerged from a hosta plant in front of house with full sun.

Posted by: Jeanne Barss - PLYMOUTH
on: 2022-08-03 18:00:31

I saw a single plant in French Park along a walking/biking path this summer.

Posted by: Neal Flotterud - Goodhue County
on: 2023-06-17 11:25:56

I walk the state trail every day this is the first time I have ever seen it. Beautiful

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore
on: 2023-07-12 13:40:04

For years I've watched this plant in the ditch across the road from me. I have to agree, I would call it a non-native, but not invasive. I may see one every 100ft, but have not seen that steadily increase over the years. Nothing like the pennycress that has competely taken over in an area I quit mowing!

Posted by: Kristin - Stearns County
on: 2023-08-22 08:56:20

This plant has self-seeded in my backyard this summer, due to the drought. Does not appear to be highly invasive. I've never seen it before. Lovely!

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