Goat’s Beard (Tragopogon pratensis) is sometimes known as Jack go to bed at noon, Showy Goat’s Beard, Shepherd’s Clock, Meadow Salsify or Oyster Plant, and it is a member of the Daisy Family.
Goat’s Beard can reach a height of 70cm, the stem is often unbranched or sometimes it produces sparsely erect branches with many leaves of a blue / green colouring. The flower is around 3 – 5 cm wide and surrounded by bracts. The bright yellow has 5 stamens and is composed of 2 fused carpels and is only open in the mornings. The leaves are alternate and often stalkless with a broad ase and tapered tip.
The leaves of Goat’s Beard are narrow with parallel veins helps it to disguise itsel well among other grasses that grow in the same environment, but when it flowers it stands out with its bright yellow colouring but this is only visable in the early hours of the morning. When it reaches midday, the flower closes up again and dissappears back into its background. During the summer months, it can close as early as 10 am, but while the flowers are open, they are pollinated by a range of insects such as butterflies and flower flies but this plant can also self pollinate. This plant is sometimes used as a barometer as well as helping passers by to tell the time, this is how it got he name Shepherd’s Clock, but it also tends to close up regardless of what time it is if there is rain approaching the area.
Height: 30 -100cm
Flowering Time: June onwards
Preferred Conditions: Tall grass, road verges and meadows but it can also tolerate intensly managed habitats.