Weeds at the side of the road are bountiful. So many kinds of plants grow in disturbed areas, like what you find at the edge of the road where it meets the fields. If you find a country road and travel it real slowly, you’ll see flowers that you never knew were there.
One day in May as I drove along a country road I saw these really tall dandelion-type flowers, so you know I just had to stop. What were these “giant dandelions” that reached over three feet tall?
The height of the flower, more than a foot and a half, told me the plants weren’t dandelions. Also, the stem wasn’t hollow, like the hollow tube of a dandelion flower stem, but it felt solid.
Against my walking stick the height of the flower heads measures about 3 feet tall. The yellow flowers are large, measuring 1-2.5 inches in diameter. The composite flowers on long stalks with alternate, grass like leaves that clasp the stem make this plant Yellow Goatsbeard, Tragopogon pratensis, an alien to the U.S.A.
The leaves of goatsbeard clasp the stem at their base. They’re long and grass-like and tend to curl when developing near the top of the stem.
An interesting character is that the blossoms close up by mid-day. You can easily see this in many lawns in our area where goatsbeard attains only a few inches in height before blooming and eventually being mowed over. In fact that is where I first learned about goatsbeard. In the grass yellow goatsbeard forms colonies of a few to many plants which open happily in the sunshine and that close up in the afternoon or on a cloudy day.
Knowing that it’s often seen as a lawn weed, I was surprised to see that the three-feet tall plants were also Yellow Goatsbeard.
I’ll search through my archived pictures to see if I have a photo of the lawn variety. Can anyone share a photo of a colony of yellow goatsbeard in the lawn?