Foraging Wild Shoots: Goat’s Beard

Photo of Fistulous Goat's-beard flower bud shoot
Flower bud and peduncle of Fistulous Goat's Beard

This week, I added two new wild foods to my diet: the immature flower shoots of Fistulous Goat's Beard (Tragopogon dubius) and those of Meadow Goat's Beard (T. pratensis). The two plants are similar but can be told apart easily by the length of the bracts that surround their flowers. Fistulous's bracts extend well beyond the yellow ray flowers, whereas Meadow's bracts are about as long as the rays.

Both species produce flowers over the course of several weeks, and individual plants may feature flower buds, open flowers, ripening fruits, and dispersing seeds all at the same time. The flexible, immature flower shoots (or, flower buds and peduncles) are mild tasting and can be easily snapped off (notice the milky sap) and eaten raw, tossed into salads, or added to soups and stir-fries.

To view the following images in full-size, click here.

Note: Purple Goat's Beard (T. porrifolius) -- the only other Tragopogon species in New England -- is similarly edible, but I've not yet had the pleasure of meeting this plant.

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