Tragopogon pratensis is a biennial herb, 15-80 cm tall, from a fleshy taproot, roots may be associated with VA mycorrhizas, sap milky.
Leaves alternate those of basal rosette leaves grass-like, erect, stem leaves, long, slender, entire to 30 cm long, 2 cm wide, abruptly narrowed just above base, curled at apex, margins wavy, base clasping stem, slightly wooly when young.
Flowers bright yellow, all rays (ligulate), about 3 cm wide, bracts 8, 1.2-2.4 cm long, equal to or shorter than rays, (flower stalk not hollow or swollen) self- fertile (autogamous), (Mulligan and Kevan 1973), flowering stalks 2-11 per plant; flower heads, one per stalk. flower heads tend to track the sun in the morning and close in the afternoon; pollinated by insects; blooms May-Aug.
Fruit dry achenes 1.5-2.5 cm long, beak slender, short, plumed; bracts elongating to 1.8-3.8 cm, fruiting head like that of T. dubius; seeds wind dispersed, one plant may produce an up to 850 seeds. seeds wind dispersed up to 250 m; seeds do not require light to germinate and therefore do not form a persistent seed bank (Clements et al. 1999).
Wetland status: NL.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Habitat: Prefers moister habitats than T. dubius. Open areas.
Notes: Leaves and roots edible before plant flowers. Deer, squirrels and rabbits eat flowers. Inflorescences eaten by fruit flies (Tephritiae) and thrips (Thysanoptera). Host to the rust fungus Puccinia hysterium (Clements et al. 1999).