Tuesday, 8 November 2011


At first sight Yellow Goat’s Beard looks rather like a dandelion and it has a clock of seeds like dandelions do too, which gives rise to another country name for the plant, Shepherd’s Clock. It is also called Meadow salsify as it is closely related to the Purple Goat’s Beard which gives us the salsify root. It is a member of the daisy family of Asteraceae or Compositae plants and is indigenous to Europe, including Britain, as well as Iran and Siberia and is naturalized in the US. It can grow to heights of between one and two feet, and has golden yellow flowers which bloom in June and July. It is notable in that the flowers open at dawn and close around noon, unless it is cloudy. This has given rise to the names “(Jack) go-to-bed-at-noon” as described by the 16th century
English herbalist, John Gerard, and “Noon flower.”
  Abraham Cowley, the 17th century English metaphysical poet (1618-1667) wrote these lines about the plant in his poem which mentions many of Britain’s wild flowers “Helleborus Niger, or, Christmas Flower”:-
   “The goat’s beard, which each morn abroad doth peep
     But shuts its flowers at noon and goes to sleep.”
   The juice of the plant has been used for stomach upsets, and is said to be beneficial to the liver and gallbladder. The roots can be eaten like parsnips although the roots of the salsify plant are better. The young leaves and shoots can be used as pot-herbs to flavour soups and stews, and the young stalks including the flower buds before they open may be cooked like asparagus, and are said to have a similar taste. The roots can be dug up in autumn and kept in sand, as you would keep chicory roots. The high inulin content of the roots means that these roots are good for diabetics, and they are used as detoxifiers in traditional medicine. However the younger the root, the better it tastes.
  The yellow petals can be steeped in boiling water and left for 20 minutes or so and then the liquid should be strained and left to cool. The water can be used to lighten freckles and as a cleanser.
   The Physicians of Myddfai found uses for this plant, and this one was for pneumonia
“Let (the patient) take, for three successive days, of the following herbs; hemlock, agrimony, herb Robert, and asarabacca, then let him undergo a three day's course of aperients. When the disease is thus removed from the bronchial tubes, an emetic should be given him (daily) to the end of nine days. Afterwards let a medicine be prepared, by digesting the following herbs in wheat ale or red wine: madder, sharp dock, anise, agrimony, daisy, round birthwort, meadow sweet, yellow goat's beard, heath, water avens, woodruff, crake berry, the corn cockle, caraway, and such other herbs as will seem good to the physician. Thus is the blessed confection prepared.”
 Clearly this would kill or cure given that they prescribed hemlock!
 This was a prescription of theirs for fevers: first of all they suggested taking
   “The mugwort, madder, meadow sweet, milfoil, hemp, red cabbage, and the tutsan, all these seven herbs enter into the composition of the medicine required.
Any of the following herbs may be added thereto, butcher's broom, agrimony, tutsan, dwarf elder, amphibious persicaria, centaury, round birth wort, field scabious, pepper mint, daisy, knap weed, roots of the red nettle, crake berry, St. John's wort, privet, wood betony, the roots of the yellow goat's beard, heath, water avens, woodruff, leaves of the earth nut, agrimony, wormwood, the bastard balm, small burdock, and the orpine.”
  Culpeper used this plant in medicine too and wrote of it:-
 “A large double handful of the entire plant, roots, flowers and all bruised and boiled and then strained with a little sweet oil, is an excellent clyster in most desperate cases of strangury or suppression of urine. A decoction of the roots is very good for the heartburn, loss of appetite, disorders of the breast and liver, expels sand and gravel, and even small stone. The roots dressed like parsnips with butter are good for cold, watery stomachs, boiled or cold, or eaten as a raw salad; they are grateful to the stomach strengthen the lean and consumptive, or the weak after long sickness. The distilled water gives relief to pleurisy, stitches or pains in the side.”
  However the plant has fallen out of use both for its edible and medicinal qualities.


  1. Thank you for taking the time to post. Most interesting! :)

  2. Nice. Does it also work for purple coloured tragopogon?

  3. agreed thanks as well. a revival of natural medicine is a must

  4. My garden has adopted some of these. Not unpleasant to look at. I'll tolerate the for now, until they become a nuisance.

  5. Ya this is rubbish



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