Western salsify is a biannual which sometimes acts like an annual. Its growth habit changes over its life span. Salsify grows its first year in a basal rosette. The leaves are long, linear and grass like, and can grow up to a foot in length. When growing as a biannual, it over-winters in the rosette stage. During the second season, salsify produces an erect stem, 18- to 24-inches tall. The root of western salsify is a thick fleshy taproot. All parts of western salsify produces a milky sap when broken.
The flower of western salsify is yellow and is produced in late spring to early summer. The flowers are usually only present morning to early afternoon. They are produced on the end of long stems. The stem is swollen and hollow just below the flower. The seed head resembles the seed head of a dandelion, but is much larger, 2- to 3-inches in diameter. Western salsify is found throughout the United States. It is more prevalent in western states.
Western salsify is found in horticultural crops, roadsides, pastures, rangelands, and disturbed areas. Any cultivation, including mowing, will control this plant.
Use a selective post-emergence application timed after germination when plants are young and actively growing.