With about 120 species of Solidago native to North America, there’s a goldenrod for every circumstance. For gardeners with wet or boggy patches and filtered sunlight, this bog-dwelling goldenrod is an obvious choice. It prefers light shade and requires moist or wet soils, adapting to clay, sand, and loam. It grows 3 to 6 feet tall and blooms August through October with arching, widely spreading branches that terminate in panicles of yellow flower heads. As one of its common names (rough-leaved goldenrod) suggests, it has rough leaves and a rough, ridged, purplish-green stem that sets it apart from many other species in its genus. The stems are lined with generous-sized, green leaves that taper off as they reach the tall sprays of flowers. The upright plants may lean to one side and will benefit from the natural support of surrounding vegetation. Swamp goldenrod is native to most of the northeastern United States and is a keystone plant, hosting 122 species of caterpillars and feeding numerous species of bees, moths, and other insects.
Native habitats include high-quality natural areas, typical and sandy swamps, wet banks along creeks and streams, poorly drained areas, shaded bogs, and interdunal wetlands near Lake Michigan. Try planting with Joe-pye weed, boneset, blue vervain, and New England aster.
Grows 2 ½-6’ tall.
Prefers part sun and shadier conditions.
Adapts to a wide range of wet to moist soils.
Blooming period is late summer/early fall. Each panicle has primary branches divided into short secondary branches that terminate in clusters of open, erect panicles up to 1 ½’ long and 2’ wide. Individual flower heads are about 1/8" across, consisting of 5-12 ray florets that surround 5-15 disk florets, which give way to small, bullet-shaped achenes with tufts of hair for wind dispersal.
Alternate leaves line the stem, becoming smaller as they ascend. Basal leaves are 4-12" long and obovate in shape with serrated margins. The middle leaves are 2-4" long and more elliptic in shape with slightly serrated margins. The upper surface of the leaves is medium green and either hairless or covered with stiff minute hairs; the lower surface of the leaves is hairless and smooth. The plant spreads by seeds and rhizomes.
Host plant to 122 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including asteroid and wavy-lined emerald moths, plus 11 specialist moths. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract honey bees, bumble bees, leaf-cutting bees, and wasps. Pollinator specialists include hairy-belted miner bee, cloudy-winged miner bee, simple miner bee, and spine-shouldered cellophane bee. Many other species of insects feed on the foliage, flowers, and other parts of the plant. Songbirds such as indigo buntings, slate-colored juncos, swamp and American tree sparrows, and goldfinches eat the seeds. Deer, rabbits, and voles browse the plant.
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
Several animal and test tube studies suggest goldenrod may help reduce inflammation, relieve muscle spasms, fight infections, and lower blood pressure. It may also act as a diuretic, and Europeans use it to treat urinary tract inflammation and to prevent or treat kidney stones.
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