About 80 perennial species make up the genus Solidago, most being found in the meadows and pastures, along roads, ditches and waste areas in North America, and a few from Europe that were introduced some 250 years ago.
Many species are difficult to distinguish. Probably due to their bright, golden yellow flower heads blooming in late summer, the goldenrod is often unfairly blamed for causing hay fever in humans. The pollen causing these allergy problems is mainly produced by Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida), blooming at the same time as the goldenrods. Actually, goldenrod pollen is too heavy and sticky to be blown far from the flowers. Furthermore, goldenrods are pollinated mainly by insects.
Goldenrods are easily recognized by their golden inflorescence with hundreds of small capitula, but some are spike-like and other have auxiliary racemes.
They have slender stems, usually hairless but S. canadensis shows hairs on the upper stem. They can grow to a length between 60 cm and 1.5 m.
Their alternate leaves are linear to lanceolate. Their margins are usually finely to sharply serrated.
Propagation is by wind-disseminated seed or by underground rhizomes. They form patches that are actually vegetative clones of a single plant.
Goldenrod is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera which feed on Goldenrods.
Goldenrods can be used for decoration and making tea. Goldenrods are, in some places, held as a sign of good luck or good fortune; but they are considered weeds by some. The goldenrod is the state flower of the U.S. states of Kentucky (adopted March 16, 1926) and Nebraska (adopted April 4, 1895). It used to be the state flower of Alabama, being adopted as such on September 6, 1927, but was later rejected in favour of the camellia. Goldenrod was recently named the state wildflower for South Carolina.
British gardeners adopted goldenrod long before Americans. Goldenrod only began to gain some acceptance in American gardening (other than wildflower gardening) during the 1980s. A hybrid with aster, known as x Solidaster is less
Solidago canadensis was introduced as a garden plant in Central Europe, and is now common in the wild. In Germany, it is considered an invasive species that displaces native vegetation from its natural habitat.
Inventor Thomas Edison experimented with goldenrod to produce rubber, which it contains naturally. Edison created a fertilization and cultivation process to maximize the rubber content in each plant. His experiments produced a 12 foot tall plant that yielded as much as 12 percent rubber. The rubber produced through Edison's process was resilient and long lasting. The tires on the Model T given to him by his friend Henry Ford were made from goldenrod. Examples of the rubber can still be found in his laboratory, elastic and rot free after more than 50 years. However, even though Edison turned his research over to the U.S. government a year before his death, goldenrod rubber never went beyond the experimental stage.
Solidago asperula Desf. (S. rugosa S. sempervirens)
Solidago beaudryi Boivin (S. rugosa S. uliginosa)
Solidago erskinei Boivin (S. canadensis S. sempervirens)
Solidago ovata Friesner (S. sphacelata S. ulmifolia)
Solidago ulmicaesia Friesner (S. caesia S. ulmifolia)
Other useful herb information: Wheatgrass | Anise | Artemisia | Coriander | Slippery Elm | Horsetail | Clematis
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