Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Tragopogon dubius, Yellow Salsify

Yellow Salsify has yellow or pale lemon-yellow flowers about 2 inches (5 cm) wide on the tips of hollow leafless. Heads with ligulate flowers only. Tragopogon dubius Yellow Salsify bracts or phyllaries surrounding the heads are lanceolate and extend beyond the outer, shorter florets, making the flowers look larger as shown in the photo. Tragopogon dubius Yellow Salsify has a flowering season from June to September following monsoon rainfall. Preferred elevations are between 3,500 to 7,000 feet (1,067-2,134 m) or higher, 9,600 feet (2,438 m). Tragopogon dubius Yellow Salsify has a cypsela as a fruit with a feathery pappus and shown here. Tragopogon dubius

Scientific Name: Tragopogon dubius
Common Name: Yellow Salsify

Also Called: Common Salsify, Goat's Beard, Goatsbeard, Meadow Goat's-beard, Salsifis Majeur, Salsify, Western Goat's Beard, Western Salsify, Wild Oysterplant, Yellow Goat’s Beard

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Tragopogon dubius ssp. major, Tragopogon major)

Status: Introduced and naturalized.

Duration: annual or biennial.

Size: 1 to 2 feet (30-61cm) or more 3 feet (91 cm)

Growth Form: Forb/herb; plants begin life as basal vegetative plants for 2 or 3 years before flowering and drying out; plants upright (erect); slender branches from the base; stems emit milky sap when crushed.

Leaves: Green; leaves without supporting stalk (sessile); arranged alternately along slender stem; leaves narrow, grass-like; older leaves losing long tangled hairs, glabrescent.

Flower Color: Yellow, pale lemon-yellow; showy; 2 inches (5 cm) wide on tips of hollow leafless stalks; floral heads singles (solitary); ligulate flower heads only; bracts (phyllaries) lanceolate that extend beyond the outer, shorter florets, making the flowers look larger; flowers my close-up with mid-day heat; plant do not flower for several years and die after flowering; fruit is a cypsela.

Flowering Season: June to September following monsoon rains.

Elevation: 3,500 to 7,000 feet (1,067-2,134 m) or higher, 9,600 feet (2,438 m).

Habitat Preferences: Various habitats including fields, open areas, disturbed areas and along roadsides.

Recorded Range: Yellow Salsify is native to Eurasia and naturalized throughout most of North America. It is also found in Australia and South Africa. Yellow Salsify is common throughout the southwestern United States.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Tragopogon dubius.

North America species range map for Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius:

Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius: Click image for full size map.
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: In North America Tragopogon dubius can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources:

  • Weeds of Kentucky and adjacent states: a field guide,
  • Weeds of the Northeast,
  • Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains,
  • Invasive exotic pest plants in Tennessee (19 October 1999).
  • Weeds of the United States and Canada,
  • Weeds of the West.

  • Plants included here may become weedy or invasive


    Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
    Wetland Indicator: Unknown
    Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

    Genus Information: In North America there are 8 species and 2 accepted taxa overall for Tragopogon. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 141 accepted species names and a further 78 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Tragopogon.

    The genus Tragopogon was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

    In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 5 species of genus, California has 4 species, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah each have 3 species and Texas has 2 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.

    Comments: Yellow Salsify, like most species of the genus Tragopogon in the United States, is a European introduction, non aggressive and naturalized and spread throughout North America. In Arizona it is found in sunny open areas and especially along roadsides.

    Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
    Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius, has large showy attractive attractive flowers, the flowers and their seeds may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar or food.

    According to the U.S. Forest Service; Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) page; Yellow Salsify is an important forage for Deer and Elk from March through and Proghorn regularly utilize it where and when available throughout their range. Both small mammals such as Pocket Gophers Deer Mice will consume seeds from Yellow Salsify and likely other small seed consuming mammals will also. Grizzly Bears are known to take advantage of this important food source. Range livestock will also eat Yellow Salsify.

    Birds are known to feed on the seeds from Yellow Salsify including Sharp-tailed Grouse, Sage-grouse, and Dusky Grouse. Most likely other gallinaceous birds such as Turkeys, Ptarmigan, Pheasants and Quail will also consume the seeds.

    Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
    Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius, has large showy attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, Native Bees and other insects in search of food and nectar.

    U.S. Forest Service; Fire Effects Information System (FEIS)
    See the U.S. Forest Service online collection of reviews of the scientific literature for management considerations of Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius here.

    The genus “Tragopogon” (Tragopo'gon:) derived from two Greek words, tragos meaning "goat" and pogon meaning "beard," suggested by its prominent, feathery hairs when in seed.

    The genus Tragopogon was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

    The species epithet dubius (du'bius:) doubtful, as in the sense of not conforming to a pattern.

    According to the U.S. Forest Service; Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) page “Yellow Salsify is edible and has been used to treat dog or coyote bites, boils, sore throats, and internal injuries of horses. Young yellow salsify leaves, stems, and roots are edible. ”

    “Natives of British Columbia chewed the coagulated milk from yellow salsify stems like gum.”

    Date Profile Completed: 07/16/2012; updated 12/05/2020
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed 12/04/2020.
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet;; accessed 12/04/2020.
    Pamela S. Soltis, Flora of North America; Asteraceae; Tragopogon; 2. Tragopogon dubius Scopoli, Fl. Carniol. ed. 2. 2: 95. 1772. Genus, species; Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Heil et al. 2013; Editors: S.Buckley, 2010, A.Hazelton 2015, A.Hazelton 2017; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; accessed 12/04/2020.
    David J. Keil & G. Ledyard Stebbins 2012, Tragopogon dubius, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 04, 2020.
    Michael J. Plagens; Arizonensis; Field Guide; Sonoran Desert Flora; Asteraceae, Yellow Salsify, Tragopogon dubius; accessed 12/04/2020.
    Gucker, Corey L. 2008. Tragopogon dubius. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [2020, December 4].
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Tragopogon dubius', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 December 2020, 09:03 UTC, [accessed 4 December 2020]
    Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 12/04/2020)
    IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 04 December 2020].