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Goldenrods More than Yellow Weeds


Goldenrods have sort of an undeserved bad reputation; an invasive weed and the cause of sneezes and watery eyes. Up front, though, it’s ragweed which causes more headaches for allergy sufferers, golden rod is usually not. Ragweed, which blooms at the same time, releases pollen in the air; goldenrod pollen is heavier and is more commonly moved around by insects.


Goldenrod does like to wander and can be seen as invasive. And goldenrod is sometimes just unaffectionately dubbed a weed (whatever that word means).


But the goldenrod has turned many meadows, fields, pastures and even road ditches a brilliant yellow, a traditional September event. It often blooms along with the purple asters, making for one of the best flower shows around.


Goldenrod is an amazing plant, so amazing that states such as Kansas, Nebraska and South Carolina elevated the “weed” to the honorary place of state flower. Goldenrod is a large family. There are dozens species. The different species can be found in dry ground, bogs and swamps, just about anywhere.


Goldenrod is also the last chance or the last stop for many pollinators before the killing frosts. It provides high quality pollen and nectar, particularly important for honeybees and our native wild bees. Any goldenrod field is swarming with insects. For some, it’s an important plant for reproduction; several insects, including the Gall Fly.


The Goldenrod Gall Fly is an amazing little bug which spends it’s entire existence on the goldenrod. After the male picks out a suitable spot, the females comes along and the eggs are injected into the stem; eventually this form a gall or the round ball often seen on the goldenrod.


The eggs eventually hatch and the larvae live in their gall existence for about a year. Sometimes, a hungry woodpecker will find a good meal by cracking open the gall, poor larvae.


There is even a goldenrod spider. This little spider, about an 1/8 inch can change colors from white to yellow and has red stripes. It;s venom isn’t harmful to humans but is fatal to many other insects, even those much larger. It doesn’t make a web, it just bites.


At one time, Thomas Edison thought the goldenrod was a good plant for homegrown rubber production. Tires were actually made from goldenrods and are still on display. But even before Edison began his rubber experiments, folk medicine had a lot of uses for the plant. It was generally brewed into a tea and used to treat many ailments particularly urinary tract infections.


Goldenrods are more than a field of yellow weeds.


Goldenrods and wil, purple asters bloom togther in September and October in one of the best free flower displays in town.

Goldenrods and wil, purple asters bloom togther in September and October in one of the best free flower displays in town.