Showy Goat’s Beard

Showy Goat's Beard

Showy Goat’s Beard © 2008 Bo Mackison

This wildflower, also known as Meadow Salsify, blooms from May through August in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the United States. It is a flower that literally follows the sun, a true sun-worshiper. The blossoms only open on sunny mornings and as they do they turn to face the sun. They close by noon as protection against the harsher mid-day sun,but then open the next sunny day.

Goat's Beard Going to Seed

Goat’s Beard Going to Seed © 2008 Bo Mackison

The plant’s white, plumed seeds form a puffball that is especially fluffy, hence the name of the flower – goat’s beard. Native Americans used the sap of the plant – a thick, milky substance – as chewing gum. The tap root can be cooked like a parsnip or roasted to make a coffee-substitute. Even the leaves are edible – either raw in salads or cooked.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Joanna Young says:

    I love these wildflower pics plus explanations – thanks for sharing this one about the sun worshipper


  2. They are gorgeous – as usual!
    And thanks again for the info!

  3. Chris Osborne says:

    I don’t think anyone would design a flower like that. It’s just so cool looking that anyone who made it that way on purpose would think there’s no way it could be real.

  4. Gandalf says:

    Interesting to see both the flower and the seeds. That certainly is a versatile flower – even a coffee substitute. Wow – probably decaf 🙁

  5. Beautiful flowers.I like the flower and the name Goat’s beard.Thanks for the interesting info.

  6. That is the puff I had taken a macro photo of in the bright sunlight and couldn’t identify. I had taken the photo at noon, and the flowers were closed. Ah-ha! So it is a flowering plant called Goat’s Beard. Interesting info… and the tap root can be toasted for a coffee substitute. Neat. Great shots and information. Thanks! 🙂

  7. Anna, not to put too fine of a point on it – well, maybe it is too fine a point, but anyway for accuracy – you probably have the Yellow Goatsbeard which can be found in Kansas. The Showy doesn’t much cross the Mississippi. If it’s the yellow, it should have a stem swelling just below the flower and also the bracts (those green spiky things from the flower head) are about twice as long.

  8. Never seen this flower before! Awesome job and love how you framed the first shot!

  9. Great images and info Bo thanks for sharing this, nice work !!

  10. Very nice photos, Bo!

  11. Very nice capture!

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