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.
This plant is apparently quite a modern one, known only from its present distribution, Europe, N. and W. Asia as far east as the Himalayas.
It is found in Great Britain in the Peninsula, Channel, Thames, Anglia, and Severn provinces. In S. Wales it is absent from Radnor and Cardigan, Merioneth in N. Wales, but occurs in the Trent, Mersey, Humber, Tyne, and Lakes provinces, except the Isle of Man. In the W. Lowlands it is found generally, except in Wigtown and Renfrew; in the E. Lowlands generally, except in Peebles, Selkirk, Linlithgow; in the E. Highlands generally, except in Mid and N. Perth, Banff, and Easterness; in Clyde Isles, W. Sutherland, and Caithness, or from Lanark and Caithness to the S. Coast. It is rare in Scotland. In Ireland and the Channel Islands it is also native.
Goat's Beard is found in fields and meadows, especially in upland pastures laid to grass. It is found, moreover, more or less commonly by the side of pathways, and is common on railway-banks, and on allotment gardens and waste ground. But it is quite native in grass meadows, occurring in some abundance here and there.
Goat's Beard is an erect plant, with a cylindrical stem, with sheathing leaves arising mainly from the base, and branched. The leaves are tapering, narrowly elliptical, acute, and with the base expanded, clasping the stem, entire, smooth.
The flowerheads are greenish-yellow, and may be equal to, or less than the involucre, as here, or half as long (as in T. minus). The flower-stalks are cylindrical. The pappus hair has a stalked feathery-down.
The Goat's Beard is 2 ft. high at the most. It is in bloom in June. It is perennial, propagated by division.
The flower closes at noon according to some, but the best time to see it wide open is at night or early in the morning (3 a.m.). The structure of the flowerhead is much like that of Taraxacum, the style being hairy above, with narrow lobes. The flowers when open are yellow and conspicuous, but are not likely to be visited by insects because of their crepuscular habit, i.e. open at night, and are more frequently self-pollinated on that account.
The fruits are provided with a tuft of hairs which assist in dispersing them by the wind, in the same way as the Dandelion, but forming a bigger "clock".