You’ve probably seen the bright yellow-gold blooms of goldenrod along roadsides, in ditches, or in fields. This plant is prevalent throughout most of the U.S., with the exception of some of the northwestern states. It’s a plant with a lot of wildlife benefits.
There are about 120 different species of goldenrod and most of them are native to the U.S. Goldenrod is common to prairies, grasslands, roadsides, and can even be found growing in forests.
The blooms appear in summer and can last into late fall (July to November). The month it blooms depends on which state it is growing in. The multiple small flowers are produced at the end of the plant.
Here’s a fun science fact about goldenrod: it produces a chemical at the roots that discourages the growth of other plants nearby. This process is called allelopathy.
Goldenrod is the state flower of Kentucky and Nebraska.
Gardening With Goldenrod
I usually include natives in my garden; however, goldenrod has the strong possibility to become overgrown in a garden so I have not as yet, added it to my native garden area.
The seeds are wind-dispersed making goldenrod capable of colonizing new, open ground easily. One scientific study showed that one field of goldenrods averaged 3,070 seeds per plant (SOURCE). That’s a lotta seed!
Some goldenrod species are capable of spreading rapidly by underground rhizomes which will also make it more difficult for other plants to grow in the same area.
The allelopathic effect of the chemicals goldenrod produces also reduces competition from other plants. This might be one native plant to avoid including in your garden – but perhaps an open field where other wildflowers are growing would be suitable.
So all this to say, if you’re going to add goldenrod into your garden, make sure it is somewhere that you don’t mind it spreading rapidly and taking over – like a wildflower garden or meadow.
Does Goldenrod Cause Seasonal Allergies?
Just a side note for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies. Goldenrod blooms at the same time as ragweed, so it is often confused as an allergen producer. However, it is the ragweed pollen that is the culprit for most allergy sufferers.
Wildlife Uses for Goldenrod (Solidago)
Many insects feed on the nectar and pollen produced by goldenrod. This includes bees, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, and butterflies. Praying mantis might be found on these flowers, seeking to eat the insects that it attracts.
There are also about 50 species of insects that feed on the stem of goldenrod species when they are in their larval or nymph form. If you see galls on the stems of the plant, these insects are the cause.
White-tailed deer and rabbits will feed on the leaves of the plant. Turkey and ruffed grouse will also feed on the leaves in winter. Certain small mammals will feed on the seeds as well. These include squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and foxes.
Some birds feed on the seeds of the plant including grouse, pheasant, and songbirds. Downy woodpeckers and chickadees have been recorded as feeding upon the insects that create the galls on the goldenrod plants (SOURCE).
It’s a late bloomer in many southern states and can still be seen being fed upon by bees in late fall, early winter in some places. I caught this patch still blooming (and feeding the bees) in late November in Georgia.
- USDA Forest Service: Tall Goldenrod
- See photos of many of the insects found on goldenrod
- Forest Plants of the Southeast