Mostly biennial, 3-10 dm; lvs elongate, generally tapering fairly uniformly from base to apex, not recurved, evidently floccose when young, later ±glabrate except commonly in the axils; peduncles evidently enlarged and fistulous under the heads in fl and fr; invol bracts typically 13, down to 8 on later heads or small plants, 2.5-4 cm in fl, distinctly surpassing the rather pale lemon-yellow rays, elongating to 4-7 cm in fr; achenes slender, 25-36 mm, gradually narrowed to the stout beak; pappus whitish; 2n=12. Roadsides and other open, relatively dry places; native of Europe, now widely established over most of the U.S., especially westward. May-July. (T. major)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Heil et al. 2013
Duration: Annual, Biennial Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual or biennial herb, 40-80 cm, tall; stems erect, branching from the base. Leaves: A few basal leaves but most are alternate and sessile along the stem; blades elongate and grasslike, to about 15 cm long, often covered with long tangled hairs when young and losing the hairs with age. Flowers: Flower heads showy, yellow, and ligulate, solitary on peduncles that are visibly inflated at the top; involucres cylindrical to narrowly conical, the bracts (phyllaries) 10-13 in 2 equal series, lanceolate with long- attentuate tips, 2-4 cm tall in flower and 3-6 cm tall in fruit, exceeding the florets in length; florets all ligulate (like ray florets but always bisexual) 10-100 or more per flower head, pale yellow, the outer florets shorter than or just equalling the phyllaries in length. Fruits: Achenes tapering into beak at the top, 2-3 cm long including the beak; topped with a pappus of white bristles, 2-3 cm long. Ecology: Found on disturbed ground, below 9,600 ft (2438 m); flowers June-September. Distribution: Native to Eurasia and widely naturalized throughout North America. Also found in Australia and South Africa. Notes: Introduced and naturalized across much of North America, this plant is best distinguished by the big obconic flowering head with long narrow green phyllaries that are much longer than the flowers; the long dandelion-like pappus on the seeds when mature; and the grasslike leaves. Ethnobotany: This species is edible: the roots were fried, baked, and boiled; leaves were eaten as salad greens; the plant was used to make a diuretic tea; and the sap used as a chewing gum. Etymology: Tragopogon is drawn from the Greek tragos, goat, and pogon, beard, a reference to the feathery hairs attached to the seeds; dubius means doubtful, possible referring to its dubious placement within the Tragopogon genus. Synonyms: Tragopogon dubius subsp. major, Tragopogon major Editor: SBuckley, 2010, AHazelton 2015, AHazelton 2017