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PLANT NOTES: Goldenrod

by KINNIKINNICK NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
| September 9, 2022 5:35 AM

Its graceful plumes of golden yellow flowers in pyramid-shaped clusters nod in the breeze from mid-July to October. Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), a native, long-lived perennial forms large, dense patches. This rugged survivor tolerates a variety of well-drained soils and loves the sun. Lance-shaped leaves with sharply toothed edges alternate along a stem that can reach up to 6 feet tall.

First described in Canada, Canada Goldenrod is named in honor of the many medicinal uses indigenous tribes found for the plant. Its genus name “Solidago,” originates from the Latin word “solidare” which means “to make whole.”

Handy in the medicine cabinet, Goldenrod has plenty of other uses, too. It is a source of natural mustard yellow, orange and brown dyes. Honey bees collect large amounts of goldenrod nectar prior to winter creating a delicious, dark-colored honey prized by beekeepers. Goldenrod pollen provides sustenance for other types of bees in their winter nests.

Goldenrods have been wrongfully accused of causing hay fever. The real culprit is ragweed pollen. Both plants bloom at the same time and grow in similar habitats.

Canada Goldenrod can be a bit unruly in a landscaped setting due to its spreading rhizomatous growth. However, planting it in a submerged pot keeps it contained. Placed near a vegetable garden, Goldenrod can draw harmful bugs away from valuable food plants and attract beneficial insects.

Mature specimens grow in the Dry Meadow Habitat of the North Idaho Native Plant Arboretum. Open to the public, parking for the Arboretum is at 611 S. Ella Ave. or on the street.

Canada Goldenrod is found on page 155 of the KNPS publication, Landscaping with Native Plants in the Idaho Panhandle, available at local bookstores and the Bonner County History Museum. Native Plant Notes are created by the Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society. To learn more about KNPS and the North Idaho Native Plant Arboretum, visit www.nativeplantsociety.org.

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