Nothing to sneeze at

16

Goldenrod
He is blind indeed who does not know goldenrod, but he is a taxonomist if he knows all the goldenrods.
—Edwin Rollin Spencer, All About Weeds

I’m with Michele on the joys of seeing goldenrod everywhere at this time of year. And I do mean everywhere: in alleys, alongside highways, covering vacant lots, in the parks, in the fields, in the meadows. Nothing can keep it down; it seems to thrive in the most inhospitable of urban situations as well as going—well, wild, in the wild.

Next year, I plan to domesticate it as part of a scheme for replacing a rose bed with a tall perennial border. I do hear talk of it irritating the allergic, but I’ve also heard that it’s unfairly blamed for the sins of ragweed, in bloom at the same time. There are twenty species common to this part of New York, but don’t ask me which I see most—probably solidago canadensis.

Goldenrod was suggested as the official flower of the U.S. about 100 years ago, but eventually lost out to whatever our country’s flower is now. See? I don’t even know. (Well, I do. It’s the rose—declared as recently as 1987—but I had to google it.) It may as well be Western New York’s official flower. I’d vote for it.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com

16 COMMENTS

  1. I thought I was alone in my goldenrod affection – in WDC parts I’m constantly scold for cultivating this noxious weed – I dug up what I have from a construction site. I love it in cut arrangements and know the wildlife certainly adores it.

  2. How interesting to see this post at this time! Just this evening I showed my husband the “volunteer” plants in the big garden. It was goldenrod. He always thought he was allergic to it, but I’ve finally convinced him that it’s the ragweed that blooms at the same time. Now a question: There are two goldenrod plants amongst my bee balm and spiderwort. Can I dig them up and transplant them or will the seeds fly all over the place? Suggestions?

  3. I’ve never planted it, Marte–I plan to–but what I hear is that you can divide it and replant or even just lay a branch down where you want it to seed.

  4. Anyone old enough to remember Everett Dirksen? Republican senator from IL. Probably considered a conservative in his day (50s/60s) but by today’s standards he’d be a liberal. He tried, but failed, to make marigolds the national flower. I know, I know, marigolds are the work of the devil. But I like them, probably because so many other people don’t. They have spunk and grit and are very unpretentious.

  5. I highly recommend Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’. The graceful, arching sprays are lovely and the foliage is clean to the base. Here in Vermont, it is just about to bloom.

  6. Our property is ringed in large banks of goldenrod and I love watching the bees and butterflies darting in and out of the waving fronds. They fill in otherwise blank spots at just the right time and I have to remind myself that it’s the ragweed that’s making my head feel like a semi-truck is parked in my sinuses… not those lovely golden boughs.

  7. Another vote for goldenrod–I have both the Solidago rugosa “Fireworks” (purchased) and Solidago gigantea (volunteer) which is about 7 feet tall. I love them both–they really make my long border in late Sept. through October. I don’t find either one particularly agressive, both seem to stay put, although they each are about five feet wide. Fireworks is just beginning to bloom now, and the other should begin early next week.

  8. I would vote for Goldenrod as a National flower although these types of symbols are lost on me.
    Solidago is an amazing plant that has something like 74 species that have adapted to every state in the Union including Alaska and Hawaii. Check out these distribution maps.
    Everything from dry poor soil to wetlands.

    http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SOLID

    If you notice all the old information on wildlife says of minor importance to wildlife as food and cover. This is from before insects in general and pollinators specifically were included when speaking of wildlife. Just get near any form of goldenrod on a sunny afternoon and its importance will become apparent.

  9. I planted two types of goldenrod, rugosa and caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod) this spring. About a week ago I found the caesia, which was budding out to bloom, broken off at the ground. Either it was the *$@#! garden hose (which flops over everywhere it isn’t wanted) or a #$@!!** squirrel (squirrels in my yard often pull plants down to their level to check for food).

    I’m hoping it comes back in the spring, but there won’t be any flowers from that plant this fall.

    Dammit.

  10. Just got back from a trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where various goldenrods are in bloom, as elsewhere. The seaside goldenrod, Solidago sempervirens, is especially nice.

    As for good garden varieties, +1 for ‘Fireworks.’ Looks great, and doesn’t seed around too much.

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