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Goldenrod Native Range

Goldenrod Native Range

Goldenrod Native Range

via GIPHY

All members of the family produce one or more heads (capitulum, the term used in technical keys) of flowers. This and other goldenrods have two different types of flowers, ray flowers and disk flowers and in turn, these can have male and female parts, or either one or the other. The ray flowers look like petals, but each is actually an individual flower. The disk flowers are at the center of the head, inside the ring of ray flowers. The disk flowers are usually small. With a hand lens one can see the distinct tips of five petals in each flower. The disk flowers closest to the ray flowers open first. This goldenrod is 0.5–2.0 meters (1.6–6.6 feet) tall, and is among the tallest of goldenrods, hence its common name. The stem is rigid and generally smooth. Leaves are alternate and are 6.4–8.9 centimeters (2.5–3.5 inches) long by 1–2 centimeters (0.4–0.8 inches) wide. The underside of the leaves is covered in thin stiff hairs. Heads are generally borne individually or in clusters of two or three, and are found at the top of the plant. Each head generally has five ray flowers that are 2–3 millimeters (0.08–0.12 inches) long, and numerous disk flowers. Both the ray and disk flowers are yellow. The entire head is 7–8 millimeters wide (0.28–0.31 inches) wide. Tall goldenrod often forms galls mid-stem, and sometimes rosette producing galls at the top of stems in response to stem-boring insects.

Plant

via GIPHY

This species flowers in August to November depending on the part of the country in which it is found. It is a strong competitor in part to alleleopathic compounds (chemicals that suppress the growth of other plants) it produces and in the garden and grasslands, it can become weedy. Introduced to Europe and Asia, it has become a serious weed in those locales. Bees, wasps, butterflies, and beetles, especially flower (soldier) beetles (genus Chauliognathus) are strongly attracted to the flowers- see photo. Tall goldenrod is often called Solidago canadensis L. var. scabra Torr. & A. Gray in older manuals. Long a popular plant in European fields and gardens, the 30 varieties of S. virgaurea found in Europe are generally about 2 feet high, noninvasive, and bloom in midsummer. The North American goldenrods, however, vary widely in height, with the shortest being S. brachystachys (under 12 inches) and the tallest topping out at 4 to 6 feet (S. rigida, S. gigantea, S. rugosa, and S. altissima). Most bloom from late summer to early fall.

Here, in this part of Virginia, the Albemarle County Native Plant Database lists seven varieties of goldenrod that are native to this area. These are only a few of the approximately 38 varieties that are native to Virginia. Depending on the variety, they start appearing in the landscape as early as July and bloom until November. They’re hard to miss. Most varieties of goldenrod range in height and width from three to four feet on average. While Rough-Stemmed Goldenrod is fairly diminutive at 2 feet in height, its relative, Sweet Goldenrod, can reach 5 feet. Taller yet, Canada Goldenrod can reach 6 feet in height while the tallest of the bunch, Giant Goldenrod, can climb to 8.2 feet in height, according to the United States Department of Agriculture plant database. For an idea of just how tall this plant is, check out the accompanying photo of Piedmont Master Gardener Dorothy Tompkins standing next to a clump of it in her garden. (Source: piedmontmastergardeners.org)

 

 

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