Tragopogon coelesyriacus

Thanks once again to Jackie Chambers for both today’s photographs and write-up. Much appreciated, as always! Jackie writes:

Tragopogon coelesyriacus is found throughout temperate Asia — Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria & Turkey, and also into Greece. It usually grows in fallow fields and grassy areas. The Flora of Israel Online has more information and photographs about this species: Tragopogon coelesyriacus.

Individuals of this species grow 15-40 cm tall, on slender erect stems with long narrow leaves that are smooth and entire. The inflorescence is composed of dark pink ray florets, with a typical blooming season from March to July. There are 8 long green bracts, about 3 times longer than the dark pink petals; the elegant taper of these bracts give the inflorescence a star shape. The capitulum, or flower head, opens only in the morning and closes in the late afternoon, an interesting trait shared by other members of the genus.

The fruit is an achene, a dry, indehiscent structure containing a single seed. The achene is fringed with white hairs, called the pappus, which is an adaptation assisting in wind dispersal. The genus name Tragopogon is derived from the Greek tragos meaning “goat”, and pogon meaning “beard”. This is a reference to the silky pappus at the tip of each seed, transforming the inflorescence into a large fluffy mass. Plantzafrica.com has more information on Asteraceae terminology.

There are a number of Tragopogon species. One of the better known relatives of Tragopogon coelesyriacus is the weedy (in North America) Tragopogon pratensis, commonly known as goat’s beard or Johnny-go-to-bed-at-noon. It is a European native that has naturalized in North America. Another relative is Tragopogon porrifolius, sometimes called purple salsify or vegetable oyster, and cultivated for its edible roots and young shoots.

Tragopogon coelesyriacus
Tragopogon coelesyriacus

12 responses to “Tragopogon coelesyriacus”

  1. bbum

    Purple salsify is actually quite the spectacular plant.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbum/2508314722/
    Oddly, it attracts parasitic bugs — and continues to thrive — like no other plant I have ever seen. Seriously; the darned things will be covered in mites, scale, and aphids, yet continue to produce beautiful flowers and seed pods.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbum/2508312348/
    In the above photo, there are 7 or 8 different kinds of bugs hanging out feeding upon or feeding upon those feeding upon the purple salsify blossom.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbum/2507487017/
    I just like the above photo. 🙂

  2. Sandyinz4

    These photos always knock my socks off. Spectacular. Thanks for making my night!

  3. Morris B.

    I’ve always wanted to travel to the Mid-east, due to COPD and O2 requirements I can no longer consider such travel, but thanks to your photography I have now traveled there and back…. THANK YOU!

  4. Helen Engle

    I LOVE these Botany Photos of the Day,
    and I really like Tragopogon. Why isn’t it available for gardeners?
    It’s a useful plant as well as beautiful. I loved it along the RR tracks when I was a girl, growing in the most marginal situations.
    RR cars were spewing out all sorts of bad stuff in the 1930s and later. And there was Salsify, thriving in the rocks.
    Helen Engle

  5. Mickey

    WOW. My jaw dropped. Gorgeous shot. Thanks!!!!!

  6. Connie

    I grew Salsify last summer, I expect it will come back stronger this year. I didn’t harvest it because I don’t know when to do so. Can anyone advise me?

  7. Stephanie

    Is this available in the U.S.? It is beautiful.

  8. Annie Morgan

    Beautiful photos – great to have the flower and then the seeds, both so lovely.

  9. bbum

    Purple Salsify is quite common throughout the western US; certainly all over the Bay Area.
    It seems to harbor an astounding abundance of bad bugs — mites, aphids, scale, etc… — without harm, but this also means that plants around it may be infected. At least, that has been my experience.
    I still grow the stuff because it is such a striking plant and it attracts all kinds of critters — good bugs that hunt the bad, too — that it is a great educational plant for my 8 year old, bug obsessed, son.
    (See my earlier posts for some pics of Purple Salsify)

  10. Dana

    Thanks for the photos today! I took a few pics of a similar plant when I was visiting AZ two years ago. They have been sitting in my “Need to ID” folder on my computer. Thanks to these shots, I think I was able to ID it!

  11. Christine

    Beautiful photos!

  12. Josh Williams

    Hmmm….., I pull these out of my garden whenever I see them. The first year ones are hard to spot because they look like a clump of grass. The flowers are pretty, but the seed heads are kind of ugly, at least according to my taste. The one where I live have yellow flowers
    I found out a while back that some species are grown as vegetables. I pulled a few, pared the scrawny roots and boiled them. No luck! The result was woody and quite bitter, tasting like the nasty latex that comes out when you injure the leaves…
    Maybe I should have boiled longer and changed the water a few times….
    Thanks, Daniel and Jackie!

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