Plants - Native Plants and Wildflowers

Natural selection: Goldenrod

This sunny late bloomer contrasts well with a rich tapestry of harvest hues


Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)
*

Zone 4
* 
Native to Ontario (south to New Mexico and Georgia)

Long vilified as the cause of autumn hay fever (in fact, the culprit is ragweed, whose inconspicuous flowers and airborne pollen bloom at the same time), goldenrod is so familiar to Canadians that we tend to consider it a wildflower at best, a weed at worst.

Of the 100 or so Solidago species, most are native to North America with a few hailing from South America and Eurasia. Several of our indigenous species are sufficiently well-behaved to be included in gardens, and as the name suggests, showy goldenrod is among the most floriferous.

When our common roadside goldenrod (S. canadensis, native from Yukon to Newfoundland) was introduced to England in 1648, it received an enthusiastic reception. Since then, many cultivars have been developed in northern Europe and Israel, and are still as popular as ever. E. A. Bowles (1865-1954) alluded to its “dignity and distinction,” and Graham Stuart Thomas (1909-2003) wrote of its ability to “give gaiety to the sere touch of the waning year.” We have to agree.

Sun-loving goldenrod attracts bees, beneficial insects and butterflies, and is deer- and disease-resistant.

Other garden-worthy native species include:

White goldenrod (Solidago bicolor)
* Zone 3
Native from Manitoba to Nova Scotia

Blue-stemmed goldenrod (S. caesia)
* Zone 4
* Native from Ontario to New Brunswick

Early goldenrod (S. juncea)
* Zone 3
* Native from Manitoba to Nova Scotia

Wrinkle-leaved goldenrod (S. rugosa ssp. aspera)
* Zone 4
* Native to Ontario

Shot on location at Wildflower Farm

 

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