WSU Extension


Weeds : Salsify (Goatsbeard) : Tragopogon spp.
(revision date: 2/12/2019)

Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Cycle: Biennial
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Salsify plants are somewhat grass-like in appearance, with slender, pointed leaves which may be as long as twelve inches. The juice is milky. Young plants are low-growing. More mature plants are upright from a long taproot, growing to one to three feet with some branching. Flower heads are borne singly at the tips of stems. Flower heads are pointed before opening, with several narrow, pointed bracts enclosing the buds. Flowers of western salsify (Tragopogon dubius) are yellow, on stems which are enlarged and hollow below the base of the flower. Meadow salsify, T. pratensis, also has yellow flowers, but lacks the enlarged stems. Common salsify, T. porrifolius, has purple flowers and also has enlarged, hollow stems below the flower heads. Seed heads of salsifies are coarsely dandelion-like in appearance, with large round "puffballs" of plumed, wind-dispersed seeds. Hybrids of salsify species may also occur, with characteristics intermediate between those of the parents.
Salsifies are commonly found in moist areas, roadsides, waste places, gardens, meadows, and similar sites. It is not usually a problem in maintained lawn and turfgrass.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Cultivation (rototilling or hoeing) will effectively eliminate plants.
  • Careful digging is useful to manage weed populations. However, digging can carry undesirable weed seed to the surface and foster further germination.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply according to label directions. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
Turf areas
  • 2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba
Bare ground areas
  • glyphosate
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Caption: Salsify flower and leaves
Photo by: R. Parker
Caption: Salsify flower
Photo by: R. Parker
Caption: Salsify seed head
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Salsify leaf blades
Photo by: D.G. Swan