Tragopogon porrifolius L.
common salsify (oyster plant; salsify)
Asteraceae (Aster family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Brian Klinkenberg     (Photo ID #3539)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Tragopogon porrifolius
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Species Information

Biennial herb from a taproot; stems erect, solitary, simple or more commonly branching from the base, glabrous, exuding milky juice when broken, 0.4-1 m tall.
Basal leaves lacking; stem leaves entire, grasslike, tapering uniformly from base to the apex, parallel-veined with clasping bases, 5-30 cm long, 0.5-2 cm wide.
Heads with strap-shaped flowers, solitary, on enlarged, hollow stalks terminating the stems or few branches; involucres 2.5-4 cm tall; involucral bracts lanceolate, swollen at the base, equal, 5-11 or more commonly about 8, barely to strongly surpassing the ray flowers; ray flowers purple; disk flowers lacking.
Achenes elongate, 5- to 10-ribbed, 2.5-7 cm long, tapering to the slender beak; pappus of brownish, slender-tipped, feathery bristles, the feathery branches interwebbed.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat and Range

Dry roadsides and waste places in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; infrequent in SC BC, frequent in SW BC, known from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands; introduced from Europe.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia