Ohio goldenrod’s cheery profusion of yellow blooms attracts a prolific number of pollinators in late summer to early fall. Goldenrods are our most ecologically important perennial in Ohio, supporting 122 species of moth and butterfly caterpillars and 68 species of native bee goldenrod specialists (see Wildlife Value section below). All goldenrods have heavy, sticky pollen that is not windborne, but it can often be confused with ragweed, whose windborne pollen triggers hay fever. Can be found growing wild in wetlands, prairies, wet sand dunes, and along riverbanks. Spreads aggressively via rhizomes and reseeding, quickly crowding out undesirable plants in large, moist meadows.
Grows 3-4’ tall.
Thrives in full sun; intolerant to dense shade. Adapts to partial sun.
Prefers wet to medium soil. Tolerates sandy and clay soils.
Long, smooth, lance-shaped leaves are larger at the base, becoming progressively smaller near the top of the plant.
Ohio goldenrod is valued for its ample amount of late-season nectar and sticky pollen. Flowerheads are beset with butterflies, moths, flies, beneficial wasps, soldier beetles, and adult locust borers. Caterpillars of the specialist moths Hahncappsia marculenta, Helvibotys helvialis and beautiful phaneta feed on the leaves. Goldenrods support 68 native bee specialists that rely on pollen and nectar from a narrow range of plants, including cellophane bees, AKA as polyester bees because they line the cells of their nests with a waterproof material which, when dry, resembles clear plastic. The substantial number of pollinators that visit goldenrods also attracts predators such as praying mantis, assassin bugs, and spiders, making these plants highly attractive to wildlife that feed on insects.
While beekeepers depend on goldenrod to supply copious amounts of nectar for honey bees, goldenrod is essential for many specialized native bees, which pollinate more efficiently than non-native honey bees.
In September, goldenrods supply fuel for monarchs during their trek south. Finches, dark-eyed junco, grosbeaks, and nuthatches feast on the seeds.
Medicinal and Edible Uses:
Traditionally, goldenrod (solido means “to make whole or heal”) flowers and leaves have been used to treat a variety of symptoms, including inflammation and urinary health. Often used in combination with other herbs to make teas and dietary supplements, goldenrods are also edible—flowers may be used as garnishes in salads, and the leaves may be cooked like spinach and added to soups and stews. Cooks who appreciate the strong flavor may remove and prepare the tender tips in early spring.
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