Tragopogon dubius Scop.
Family - Asteraceae
Stems - From massive taproot, single or multiple from base, to +70cm tall, with milky sap, simple, fistulose, herbaceous, glabrous to lanate or floccose-lanate on internodes.
Leaves - Alternate, grasslike, to +25cm long, -1.5cm broad at base, tapering from base to apex, lanate adaxially on midrib otherwise glabrous, sheathing.
Inflorescence - Single flower head terminating stem. Peduncle expanding and hollow below involucre.
Involucre - Phyllaries typically in 2 series, 5cm long, 6mm broad at base, tapering from base to apex, lanate (mostly at base), with prominent midvein, much longer than ligules.
Ray flowers - Fertile. Ligules yellow, to 3cm long, 3mm broad. Styles bifurcate, brownish. Achenes whitish in flower, becoming tan with maturity, 10-nerved, tuberculate, tapering to a long beak, to +3cm long when mature. Pappus a single series of plumose bristles to +1cm long, whitish. Receptacle flat in flower and reflexed in fruit as to give fruiting head a globose appearance.
Disk flowers - Absent.
Plant in fruit.
Flowering - April - July.
Habitat - Fields, meadows, waste ground, roadsides, railroads.
Origin - Native to Europe.
Other info. - This species is easily visible along roadsides and in fields during late spring and early summer. The big yellow flower heads nod at the end of the stems. The plant contains a very sticky milky sap that you don't want to get on you as it is a pain to remove. The fruiting heads of the plant resemble those of the genus Taraxacum but are much larger and actually quite striking to look at. Care should be taken not to willingly spread this plant however, as it is not native.
Photographs taken off Holmes Rd., Jackson County, MO., 4-27-00, off Northwood Rd., Platte County, MO., 8-10-99, and off Hwy 49, near Ironton, MO., 6-1-03.