are butterfly magnets, and their tiny flowers host many
other insects as well, according to native plant expert
late summer, any spray of goldenrod will be covered with
several species of butterflies, wasps, bees, beetles,
all busily sucking the nectar from the closely spaced
flowers," says Hamilton, past president of the John
Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society, and
retired biology teacher living in Williamsburg, Va.
Learn more about the native plant society and chapter at
www.vnps.org and www.vnps.org/johnclayton.
are a lot of goldenrod species in Virginia, many
widespread and some with restricted distributions,
Hamilton continues. They may have flowers in plumes or
in branching, club-like, slender and wand-like, or
flat-topped arrangements, depending on the species.
goldenrods are commonly blamed for hay fever, the
discomfort is usually caused by the pollen from ragweed
(Ambrosia spp.) which is wind-borne.
pollen of goldenrods is carried by insects as it is too
heavy to be airborne under ordinary circumstances,"
profusely in late autumn, Tall Goldenrod (Solidago
altissima) features tall golden-yellow plumes; small
yellow flowers are arranged along the upper side of
branches, forming a feathery, pyramidal plume. The plant
can grow over six feet tall and self-seeds prolifically.
Tall Goldenrod thrives along roadsides, open woods and
other dry open places. The vigorous perennial is found
across the United States and most of Canada, and in
nearly every county in Virginia. Tall Goldenrods grow in
any soil – dry to moist, and special bee species
pollinate the blooms.
Virginia, Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) is
the only one with thick fleshy leaves that have smooth
toothless edges. A spray of bright yellow flower heads
are in curved, one-sided clusters, forming a large mass
of blossoms at the ends of six-foot-tall stems. It’s a
plant that loves marshes and sandy soil near the sea,
growing at the edge of salt or brackish marshes, on
small dunes and in meadows. In addition to Virginia’s
Coastal Plain, Seaside Goldenrod is found in salty
places along the coast from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to
tropical America. The plant has spread inland locally,
especially along highways that are salted in winter,
reportedly even as far west as Michigan, according to
Goldenrod (Solidago bicolor), often called Silverrod,
has white flowers, not yellow but there may be a
yellowish tint from the pollen on the white flowers.
Growing one to three feet tall, the flowers are
clustered on very short branches, giving a wand-like
appearance. White Goldenrod is seen in every county in
Virginia, and ranges from Nova Scotia, west to Wisconsin
and south to Georgia and Louisiana, adds Hamilton
Goldenrod (Euthamia caroliniana) and Flat-top Goldenrod
(Euthamia graminifolia) were formerly in the genus
Solidago. These goldenrods have dense flower clusters
growing on the tips of branches, to form a flat-topped
of goldenrod were used by Native Americans for
toothaches, colds, heart disease, sore throats, fevers,
cramps, and internal hemorrhage, according to Hamilton.
The name comes from Latin solidus, and ago, "to
make whole," because this group of plants
supposedly heals wounds.
these plants are highly desirable in the fall
garden," says Hamilton.
long blooming periods — August through November —
they furnish nectar and pollen for insects getting ready
for winter. The stems should not be cut until early
spring, since overwintering insects will lay their eggs
or develop pupae in the hollow stems of these