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The earliest of the goldenrods to bloom, this slender wildflower is easy to grow in full sun and a wide range of soils with dry-to-medium moisture. It typically grows between two and four feet tall and tolerates light shade and moist, well-drained soils. It’s a charming, vase-shaped plant with yellow plumes that arch upward and outward like a display of fireworks. It spreads by seeds and rhizomes and will readily fill in spaces. As a keystone species plant, it’s an excellent source of food for native bees, honey bees, butterflies, and small birds and is a host plant for 122 species of Lepidoptera. Planting goldenrod near the vegetable garden can draw pests away from the vegetables and attract beneficial insects to the area, as well.

 

Native habitats include gravelly roadsides, trail edges, prairies and savannas, thickets, open areas and edges of woods, waste areas, and abandoned fields. It is often grown as an ornamental and in cottage gardens, native gardens, prairies, and naturalizing meadows.

 

Plant Characteristics:

Prefers full sun and tolerates light shade.

 

Grows 2-4’ tall and wide.

 

Prefers medium-to-dry moisture but tolerates moist, well-drained soils of all types, including rocky, lean, clay, or loamy.

 

Panicles of numerous yellow composite flowers, each about ¼" across, bloom between June and August for 4-6 weeks. The flowers have a mild fragrance.

 

Fruits are brown with small tufts of hair that help with wind dispersal.

 

Green leaves are narrow and up to 8" long, becoming much smaller as they ascend the stem. Plants may have one or several stems.

 

Wildlife Value:

Host plant for larvae of 122 Lepidoptera species, including 11 specialist moths, and the beautiful asteroid moth. Many songbirds, such as goldfinches and sparrows, feed on the seeds. Goldenrod provides nourishment for long-tongued and short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, and beetles. Adult goldenrod stowaway moths like to hide in the flowers.

 

Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:

Native Americans used goldenrods medicinally to treat fever, nausea, and diarrhea. Solidago species are used to treat urinary and kidney ailments. 

 

Dried leaves are made into tea.

 

Thomas Edison researched goldenrods to make goldenrod rubber, which he later passed on to the government.

Goldenrod, Early, Solidago juncea

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