Goldenrods

Photo copyright Lauretta Jones

In the late summer and through the fall, native Goldenrods brighten our local fields and forests. Angle Fly Preserve boasts many different species of Goldenrod, which can be tricky to identify unless one looks closely at the shape of the flower cluster, the leaves, and note whether the plant is hairy or smooth.

Unfortunately, when I took this photo of a Goldenrod, I was in the middle of clearing a trail and didn’t stop to make any other observations. So after the fact, the best I can do is to guess that this may be the very common Canadian or Tall Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis or S. altissima).

In 1929, an article in Time magazine described Thomas Edison driving to Florida with tons of goldenrod packed in his five-car entourage. He was collecting it for experiments to make natural rubber, but the development of synthetic rubber put an end to his research.

The article also points out that it is Ragweed, and not Goldenrod, that is chiefly responsible for the allergic misery of hayfever. Yet 80 years later, the belief that Goldenrod is the culprit persists. Ragweed pollen is lightweight, and the wind that carries it to pollinate another Ragweed, also enables it to be inhaled by an unsuspecting person. Goldenrod pollen is heavier, and has evolved to require pollination by an insect helper, such as the honeybee seen on this inflorescence. (“Inflorescense” is the botanical term for a cluster of multiple little flowers, such as on hydrangea, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Goldenrod.)

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