Meadow Salsify
Tragopogon pratensis L.
Family: Asteraceae, Aster
Genus: Tragopogon
Synonyms:
Other names: goat's beard, Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon
Nomenclature: pratensis = in meadows
Nativity / Invasiveness: introduced plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: plant with milky sap, 15-80 cm tall. Growth habit: erect biennial, more or less branched when well developed, from taproot. Stems: erect, hairless, often with whitish cast.

Leaves: alternate, grass-like, 5-30 cm long, nearly 2 cm wide, often much narrower, rather abruptly narrowed a little above the base, curved backward at tips, slightly tufted with woolly hairs when young, soon hairless.

Flowerheads: yellow, with ray florets only. Stalks not enlarged under heads in flower and scarcely so in fruit. Involucral bracts most commonly 8, mostly 12-24 mm long in flower, equaling or shorter than the rays, elongating to 18-38 mm in fruit. May-August.

Fruits: achenes, slender, 15-25 mm long, rather abruptly narrowed to the slender, relatively short beak, which is shorter than the achene. Pappus of whitish, feathery bristles.


Distribution

Roadsides, fields and disturbed areas, commonly in slightly moister habitats than T. dubius, in most parts of MT except the easternmost. Native of Europe, now established over much of the U.S.
Edible Uses

The roots of meadow salsify can be eaten, raw or cooked. They have a sweet flavor due to their inulin content. Young roots can be eaten raw while older roots are best cooked like parsnips. They are often blanched before use. Young leaves and shoots has been used for food as well, raw or cooked. They can be added to mixed salads or used in soups etc. The leaves are best used as they come into growth in the spring. The flowering stem, including the buds, can be cooked and served like asparagus.



Medicinal Uses

Salsify is considered to be a useful remedy for the liver and gallbladder. It appears to have a detoxifying effect and may stimulate the appetite and digestion. Its high inulin content makes this herb a useful food for diabetics since inulin is a nutrient made of fructose rather than glucose units and therefore does not raise blood sugar levels. The root has medicinal properties that has been used for its ability to contract tissue, purify and cleanse the blood, induce urination, induce the removal (coughing up) of mucous secretions from the lungs, increase weight, and give strength and tone to the stomach. A syrup made from the root gives great relief in cases of obstinate coughs and bronchitis. A decoction of the root has been given in the treatment of heartburn, loss of appetite and disorders of the breast or liver. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. The fresh juice of young plants is said to be a good dissolver of bile, relieving the stomach without side effects.


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