Goatsbeard, also known as yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius), is a wildflower native to Europe and western Asia. It has become widespread across North America and, at least in the prairies I’m familiar with, doesn’t seem to be problematic. Instead, it seems to have joined our native plant communities in a relatively friendly way.
Regardless of its status as a native plant, it’s definitely a species I’ve come to appreciate from a photographer’s perspective. The flower is very pretty, but the seed heads are what really grab me. Even if you don’t recognize the name of the species, it’s likely you’ve seen the seed heads out there in the world. They look like dandelion seedheads, but are about the size of your fist.
When I find a goatsbeard seed head, my inclination is to stick my macro lens right into it. The fuzzy/fluffy appendages to the seed (the pappuses) capture light in an amazing way and the patterns created by a mass of them are hard to pass up. I have way too many abstract close-up images of goatsbeard, but every seed head is a little different and I keep finding new angles I like! Here is a very small sample of photos from recent years.
like spiderwebs but plants :o
This species has definitely increased its cover exponentially here along the Front Range of Colorado, becoming one of the most common (or at least visibly) common species in our grasslands. It seems to particularly like areas where past weed control efforts via herbicide or grazing have opened up more bare soil, but is nearly equally adapt at establishing in dense, native stands of prairie. Watch what you wish for.
That’s interesting, David, and I appreciate the comment. It certainly isn’t a good competitor in established prairie around here, but spreads in a garden setting (I know from personal experience!). We’ll keep an eye on it!
Thanks for sharing your shots and the choices that make interesting photos.
Ok, you had me at Salsify! In one of my mom’s old cookbooks this was mentioned and I had no idea what it was.
Now I do…
Enjoy and thanks for another tug on the brain!
These are some great salsify photos, Chris! I love the one with the seed on vervain, especially.
Thanks for sharing what you see.
On Fri, Dec 10, 2021 at 11:53 AM The Prairie Ecologist wrote:
> Chris Helzer posted: ” Goatsbeard, also known as yellow salsify > (Tragopogon dubius), is a wildflower native to Europe and western Asia. It > has become widespread across North America and, at least in the prairies > I’m familiar with, doesn’t seem to be problematic. Instead, it ” >
It’s hard to pick a single favorite from this group, but the photo with the vervain certainly is unusual and appealing. On the other hand, the kaleidoscopic effect in the sixth image really caught my eye. Wouldn’t it be great to have a lens that we could twist like a kaleidoscope to rearrange an image?
Oh wow, these are magnificent! I understand why you can’t stop taking photos! What an amazing plant!
Does Salsify spread its seeds the way dandelions do? If so, how is it the ‘umbrella’ structure stays on the plant?
Also one of my favorites called false dandelion. Greatly enjoyed these photos!
Goatsbeard is a worthwhile design subject to photograph as seen especially in photo #3, #5 and #6.