Salsify are annual, biennial, or perennial taprooted herbs with milky juice. The leaves are alternate, linear, entire, clasping the stem. They are narrow, commonly somewhat grasslike. The flowerheads are solitary at the ends of the branches. The flowers in the flowerheads are all with rays only and with both stamens and pistils. The color is mostly yellow, with one species with purple flowers. The involucre is cylindric or bell-shaped (cone-shaped in bud), with the bracts in 1 series and equal in length. The receptacle is naked. The fruits are achenes which are linear, cylindrical or angled, 5- to 10-nerved, narrowed at the base, with a slender beak, or the outer achenes occasionally beakless. The pappus consists of a single series of feathery bristles, which are united at the base. The plume branches are interwebbed, with several of the bristles commonly longer than the others and naked at the tip. The genus contains perhaps as many as 50 species worldwide, mostly closely related, and are native mostly to Eurasia and n. Africa.
Guide to Identify Presented Species of Genus Tragopogon
STEM NOT THICKENED
T. pratensis Meadow Salsify 15-80 cm tall, hairless, not thickened below the flowerhead. Open places.
Flowerheads yellow, 2-3 cm wide. Bracts narrow, not extending past the rays.
Leaves alternate, grass-like, linear, clasping stem, curved back at tips.