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.