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.
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.
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 dubiushere.
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 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.”