Zigzag goldenrod gets its name from the way the leaves and bright yellow flowers seem to "zig zag" their way up the stem. This understated woodland goldenrod adds subtle late-season color to partly sunny or shady areas and grows 1-3’ tall. It’s a hardy plant that grows in nearly any soil and is very low maintenance. The large leaves (another common name is broadleaf goldenrod) have sharply serrated edges and turn a brilliant burgundy in the fall. Zigzag spreads by rhizomes, so be sure to choose a spot where it can spread out. Typically blooming from July to September, goldenrods are an important late nectar and pollen source when little else is blooming and monarchs are preparing for migration.
Goldenrods are often wrongfully blamed for causing an allergic reaction to wind-borne pollen, but like most native wildflowers, goldenrod doesn’t have wind-borne pollen. Their pollen is quite large and sticky, allowing it to adhere to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that help to move it around.
Native habitats include rich deciduous woods, rocky woods, woody slopes, edges of forests, stream banks, and edges of limestone glades and cliffs. It does well in shady wildflower gardens and in shadier areas of woods and borders. Its erect form contrasts well with the softer forms of other woodland plants.
Grows 1-3’ tall and 1-1 ½’ wide.
Prefers part sun (3 hours) and tolerates full shade.
Grows in rich, mesic, acidic, lime, clay, and rocky soils. No need to mulch as it adapts to dry conditions.
Small yellow florets bloom in panicles of flowerheads from August to October. Seeds have tufts of light brown hair for wind dispersion.
Dark green basal leaves are oval, coarsely toothed, and pointed at the tip; upper leaves are more linear. Leaves turn burgundy in fall and persist on plant through winter.
Goldenrods are a host plant for 122 species of Lepidoptera, including derelict eucosma and confused eusarca moths (pictured above). The pollen and nectar attract honey bees and many types of native bees. Swamp sparrows, pine siskins, and other songbirds feast on the seeds. In the winter, small animals find shelter in the dried stalks
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
The leaves may be brewed into a tea.
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