Showy Goatsbeard

Showy Goatsbeard
Showy Goatsbeard. Trapopogon pratensis.
Asteraceae, the daisy, sunflower or composite.

Plant: Upright plant 1'-2' high with grass-like leaves, milky sap, surmounted by a solitary, large, yellow, dandelion-like flower. Biennial.
Flowers: Bright yellow dandelion-like heads of all ray flowers, 1"-2" across, with brown stamens, and surrounded at the base by long, pointed bracts. The base of the stem is not notably swollen where it joins the flower; this distinguishes the plant from the closely related Yellow Goatsbeard (T. dubius). Flowers generally solitary, usually one to a plant.
Leaves: Basal rosette the first year, with a few alternate leaves on the flowering stem the second; linear, grasslike, to 12" long, stem leaves clasping.
Fruit: A large, globose head 2"-3" in diameter, of seed-like achenes each with an umbrella of stiff hairs.
Blooming: June-September
Habitat: Fields, waste places.

Comments: Also known as Meadow Salsify, this European introduction is related to common salsify, or oyster plant (P. porrifolius), which has pink-purple flowers and an edible root. It is a biennial, forming a rosette of the grasslike leaves the first year, and a flowering stem the second. The flowers open in the morning, and generally close by afternoon. The roots, like those of salsify are edible; they must be gathered before the flowering stem develops, or they become tough and unpalatable. The young leaves can be eaten as a potherb or in salads.

Where to find it: Uncommon in the park, appearing sporadically in meadow areas.