Puffy-headed Goat's-beard

By William T. Hathaway

While on a trip to Roanoke, Virginia, I was amazed at the sight of baseball-softball-sized seed heads that looked like dandelion heads. I knew that we were traveling in a limestone soil area, but what was this balloon-sized dandelion scattered in the fields along the highway? Several years later I ran across the answer: I found the flowering Goat's-beard (Tragopogon dubius) in a field near Markham in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

This plant is known as an invasive species. It is also called Yellow Salsify by gardeners.

(Also see this photograph in larger format.)