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Salsify - Goats Beard, Oyster Plant

(Tragopogon spp.)


Identifying characteristics:

There are two species of goats beard. One has yellow flowers (Tragopogon pratensis), the other purple (Tragopogon porrifolius). This herbaceous biennial begins in early spring as a basal rosette with thick, parallel veined, grass like leaves that may reach up to 1' in length. Later in spring, a smooth upright stem with alternate thin grass like, light green, leaves appears. The leaves clasp the stem, which contains milky juice. In the spring a single, giant, dandelion like flower tops the stem. Below the flower are approximately 8lance shaped bracts grow. The blossom opens in the morning, and closes by midday. After fertilization, the bracts droop, like a goats beard, and the flower becomes a globe shaped seed ball, like that of dandelion, only much larger.


Waste Areas, Roadsides

Parts Used:

Young Leaves, Crowns, Root


Wild Food Uses:

The young basal rosette leaves, and crowns, can be added to salads, or as a trail nibble, or as a cooked vegetable. The root can be boiled, and eaten as a root vegetable. The leaves and root have a mildly bitter, oyster-like flavor. The root is also supposed to be able to be roasted, and ground for a coffee substitute, although I have never tried this.

Medicinal Uses:

None Known

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield