This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
One of the folk-names of this plant is "John-go-to-bed-at-Noon," and I think it is the only example of a British plant name that is a sentence of six words. "Three-faces-under-a-hood" runs it pretty closely, but the few names we have of this order do not usually exceed four words; such as Queen-of-the-Meadows, Jack-by-the-hedge, and Poor-man's-weatherglass. John-go-to-bed, etc., is a nice expressive name, and is due to the fact that the flower is an early-closer with a vengeance. It is probably the originator of the eight-hours day, for it opens at four in the morning and closes by twelve. Farmers' boys were said of old to consult its flowers with reference to dinnertime, but probably in these days of machine-made watches the practice is obsolete.
Goat's-beard has a tap-root, somewhat like a parsnip, and long curling grass-like, stalkless leaves that clasp the stem by their bases. The flower-heads are solitary, yellow, and the eight involucral bracts are united at the base. All the florets (like those of Dandelion, Sowthistle and Chicory) are rayed, and contain both stamens and pistil. They are invested with pappus hairs (see page 20), which are stiff and feathered. It is from these beards the plant gets its English name, which is reproduced in the Greek words from which the name of the genus is composed, tragos, a goat, and pogon, a beard. It flowers during June and July, and is fairly common in meadows and wastes in England; much more rarely in Scotland and Ireland.
There is an introduced species with larger purple or rose-coloured flowers, found occasionally in damp meadows. This is the Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius). It is occasionally grown for the sake of its roots, which have a medicinal value, but inferior to those of Scorzonera, which it somewhat resembles.
Tragopogon pratensis. - Compositae. goat's beard. 84