Solidago Solidarity

Goldenrod, genus Solidago, is a much maligned and under-appreciated group of plants. It is often mistakenly blamed for hay fever and severe allergic reactions, while over in the corner, two species of ragweed spread their heavy pollen upon the winds and get (almost) none of the blame.

Europeans of the American colonial era went wild for American species of goldenrod. Early American nursery owners like John Bartram were collecting and shipping propagules back to England to satisfy the English craving for this yellow beauty. Bostonians drank goldenrod tea after the Tea Party, when English tea became hard to find on shelves for some strange reason. Another little known golden fact is that Thomas Edison wanted to extract the latex found in goldenrod leaves to make tires for Henry Ford’s new vehicles. 

There are more than a hundred species of goldenrod, all members of the Asteraceae (aster) family. Wellfield Botanic Garden has at least five of those species and two different cultivars on display this month for the visitor to gaze upon. 

Not only is goldenrod a great showy addition to the flower bed, but it is an important wildlife source as well. The genus as a whole is a top driver of biodiversity in the North American landscape. There is a species for every possible niche, from full sun to shade to wet ground. It is an important late season nectar and pollen source

The next time you come to Wellfield for a late summer visit, stop and appreciate the golden waves of goldenrod.

Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager

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3 thoughts on “Solidago Solidarity

  1. Ha! I just mentioned to someone that this is a genus that I had envied, but would not plant here where it is not native. Yet, I was also annoyed that a nursery sold it, even though it had potential to naturalize. Then, I found that it is a native species! It is not as vigorous as other species, and is not as pretty, but I am pleased that I can eventually grow some sort of goldenrod.

      1. Our native species is not so prolific, and is comparably wimpy, but I like it anyway because it is a goldenrod that I would not feel guilty about growing.

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