Yellow Salsify is also known as:
- Western Goat’s Beard
- Western Salsify
- Giant Dandelion
Perenial Sow Thistle (Sonchus arvensis) is a far-creeping perennial plant that more closely resembles giant dandelions than it does true thistles. Its leaves are various shapes, alternate, waxy, and have weakly prickled edges. In comparison, Yellow Salsify’s leaves are longer and more grass-like.
Annual Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus L.) closely resembles Perennial Sow Thistle. It’s distinguished by a much shorter taproot system.
Canadian Hawkweed (Hieracium canadense) is native to North America. The pointed leaves have toothed margins that appear hooked.
Flowers: Are pale yellow and consist of numerous ray florets. Yellow Salsify flowers also have about 13 linear-lanceolate floral bracts that are roughly the same colour as the stems and leaves. The flower heads open in the morning and close midday.
Stems: Are round and hairy, 0.3 – 1 m tall. Both the stems and the leaves are pale greyish green or bluish green, and exude a milky white latex when broken.
Leaves: Are long and grass-like with crisp margins and a triangular structure. The 3 cm-long leaves have parallel venation and clasp the stem at their base. They are hairy and their edges are smooth.
Seeds: Seed heads are globe-shaped and fluffy, like large dandelions (5 – 10 cm across). They are usually white towards the base and tawny brown towards the tips.
Roots: The root system consists of a fleshy taproot which can be eaten raw, or ground and roasted as a coffee substitute.
Habitat and Origin
Yellow Salsify is native to Europe and North Africa. It was brought to North America around 1900 as a food source and ornamental plant.
Yellow Salsify prefers full sun, mesic to dry conditions, and poor soil, like sand, clay or gravel. However, it will also grow in fertile loam, where it will become taller. Yellow Salsify can be found in relatively dry, open areas.
Propagation & Vectors of Spread
Yellow Salsify reproduces by seed. It can either be pollinated by insects or self-pollinate. This species is hermaphrodite (flowers can have both male and female organs). One plant can produce up to 1,000 seeds, which the wind can disperse great distances.
Yellow Salsify is a monocarpic perennial, which means that it dies after it sets seed. It usually flowers after 2 – 4 years, but this delay can be up to 14 years long.
The tall stalks, lightweight seeds, and parachute-like pappus (cluster of hairs) help spread the seeds in the wind.
Ecological, Economic, & Health Impacts
- Displaces native species, reducing biodiversity.
- Decreases forage production.
What Can I Do?
Yellow Salsify is currently found throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor, so PREVENTION of further spread is key.
Learn to identify Yellow Salsify: use the images presented in this profile page to learn how to identify Yellow Salsify.
What to do if you spot it: You can report any Yellow Salsify sighting by clicking here.
- Regularly monitor properties for weed infestations.
- Ensure soil and gravel are uncontaminated before transport.
- Check wildflower mixes to ensure that they do not contain Yellow Salsify.
- Ensure that plants are disposed of in a garbage bag if found in floral arrangements to prevent seeds from spreading.
- Do not unload, park or store equipment or vehicles in infested areas; remove plant material from any equipment, vehicles or clothing used in such areas and wash equipment and vehicles at designated cleaning sites before leaving infested areas.
- Do not plant Yellow Salsify in a garden, no matter how well-contained its enclosure may seem.
- Do not move soil that has been contaminated with Yellow Salsify.
- Do not compost!
- Hand-pull rosettes as soon as they appear; older plants are more difficult to pull because of their taproot.
- Mature plants will likely grow back if the plant is broken off before the top 10 cm of the root can be removed.
- Tillage in the spring or fall eliminates all existing plants, as long as it’s done deeply enough.
- Avoid mowing Yellow Salsify, as it has no positive effect on its control.
- Dicamba, metsulfuron methyl + aminopyralid, chlorsulfuron + metsulfuron methyl, 2,4-D + dicamba or metsulfuron methyl alone have proven effective on Yellow Salsify.
- Picloram has also been proven effective, however it is not suitable for wet, coastal soils.
- We recommend that any herbicide application is carried out by a person holding a valid BC Pesticide Applicator Certificate. Before selecting and applying herbicides, you must review and follow herbicide labels and application rates; municipal, regional, provincial and federal laws and regulations; species-specific treatment recommendations, and site-specific goals and objectives.
There is no biocontrol available for this plant.
- Canadian Science Publishing, The biology of Canadian weeds, 110, https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/pdf/10.4141/P98-007
- Illinois Wildflowers, Western Goat’s Beard, https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/wst_goatbeard.htm
- iNaturalist, Yellow Salsify, https://www.inaturalist.org/guide_taxa/355883
- Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, Western Salsify, https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/subject.html?sub=6545
- Mangold J., “Testing Control Options for Western Salsify (Tragopogon dubius) on Conservation Reserve Program Lands”, in Weed Technology 27(3), http://www.sarc.montana.edu/documents/weedposts/August_Weed_Post_Western_Salsify.pdf
- Montana State University, Western Salsify, https://www.montana.edu/extension/invasiveplants/extension/monthly-weed-posts/2022-august-western-salsify.html
- Native Plant Trust, Tragopogon dubius, https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/tragopogon/dubius/
- Northern Bushcraft, Salsify, https://northernbushcraft.com/topic.php?name=salsify®ion=bc&ctgy=edible_plants
- Northwest Invasive Plant Council, Tragopogon Identification and Control, http://nwipc.org/documents/Tragopogon_ID_sheet_Finalversion.docx
- Plants for a Future, Tragopogon dubius, https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tragopogon+dubius
- Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board, Western Salsify, https://www.stevenscountywa.gov/files/documents/westernsalsify231343113502020723AM.pdf
- United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tragopogon dubius, https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=TRDU