Types of FlowersGoat's Beard:
Goat's Beard wildflower might leave the observer with the impression that it is a dandelion on steroids! It is in fact a member of the same family, (aster), but there are many differences that contribute to Yellow Goat’s-Beard’s uniqueness.
The most obvious difference is size. Goat’s-Beard can grow up to a metre in height, and the single composite flower-head containing both ray and disk flowers can have a diameter up to seven centimetres. This large flower-head opens and twists slightly towards the sun each morning. In the early afternoon, the flower-head closes again. The English poet, dramatist and essayist Abraham Cowley (1618 - 1667) wrote the following about the Goat’s-Beard plant.
The goat's beard, which each morn abroad doth peep
But shuts its flowers at noon and goes to sleep.
The propensity for early closing resulted in old country names of “Noon-flower” and “Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon” being given to the plant. The genus name Tragopogon comes from the Greek words tragos, meaning ‘goat’, and pogon meaning ‘beard’. This is in reference to the seed-head of the plant (which will be shown later). The species name dubius can be translated as ‘doubtful’, and may refer to the fact that, due to hybridization with other similar species, identification may be uncertain. One of the most important characteristics of Goat’s-Beard is the ring of sharply pointed modified leaves called bracts which are arranged in a radial pattern beneath the flower-head. In this species these bracts must be longer than the petals.
Once the flower-head has finished blooming, a remarkable thing happens. The bracts close up around the fertilized flowers, completely hiding them from view.
Once the seeds have sufficiently matured, the bracts re-open and the pappae on their long stalks begin to dry out and open into parachutes.
When this process is complete, the startlingly large (up to 10 centimetre!) globe-shaped plumed head is revealed. These balls of parachutes completely dwarf those of the largest dandelion.A gust of wind is all that is needed to dislodge seeds from the white pad to which they are attached.