This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Goat's Beard is very largely a clay plant, and addicted to a clay soil, but will also grow on sandy loam, especially on cultivated ground. It is abundant on Triassic, Liassic, and Glacial clay and sands.
The fungus Ustilago tragopogi converts the inflorescence into a black powdery mass; Puccinia tragopogi, Cystopus tragopogonis, and Bremia lactucae are other fungi pests. A moth, The Mouse, Am-phipyra tragopogonis, and a fly, Urellia stellata, also attack it.
Tragopogon, Dioscor-ides, is from the Greek tragos, goat, and pogon, a beard, because of the bearded fruit, and the second Latin name refers to the habitat, a meadow.
Buck's-beard, Shepherd's Clock, Gait-berde, Goat's Beard, Go-to-bed-at-noon, Jack-by-the-hedge, John-go-to-bed-at-noon, Joseph's Flower, Nap-at-noon, Noontide, Sleep-at-noon, Star of Jerusalem are some of its common names. Of the name Go-to-bed-at-noon says Gerarde: "It shutteth it-selfe at twelve of the clock, and sheweth not his face open until the next daies sunne do make it flower anew. Wherefore it was called Go-to-bed-at-noon."
Joseph's Flower was a name given to it, according to J. C. Hare, because of the pictures representing Joseph, the husband of Mary, as a long-bearded man.
Bishop Mant says of the first name:And goodly now the noon tide hour, When from his high meridian tower The sun looks down in majesty, What time about the grassy lea The goat's beard, prompt his praise to hail, With broad expanded disk, in veil, Close mantling, wraps its yellow head, And goes as peasants say to bed.
Photo. H. Irving - Goat's Beard (Tragopogon pratense, L.)
It is used like Salsify, and has a long root like a parsnip, with a mild, sweet flavour. It is dressed like Asparagus, grown like the carrot, and cultivated in France and Germany, but seldom in Britain.
Essential Specific Characters: 185. Tragopogon pratense, L. - Stem erect, branched, glaucous, leaves clasping, erect, long, lanceolate, channelled, simple, alternate, flowerheads yellow, involucre as long as or shorter than the flower, florets ligulate, perfect, pappus feathery, anthers yellow.