The pasque flower tells us that spring is here, and when the goldenrods flower it tells us that school is about to start. No doubt some of you have noticed the goldenrods are flowering now.
Depending on where you live, the goldenrods may have been flowering for some time already, whatever your location; these plants are providing us with a wealth of information. They’re telling us that harvest season has begun, school will start soon, the days of summer are waning, and of course fall is waiting in the wings. Yup, it’s that time of year, and the goldenrods have been telling us so.
Goldenrods are members of the sunflower or aster family. If you closely observe the goldenrod flowers, you’ll notice that each “flower” is really a cluster of flowers or inflorescence. That’s true for all members of the Aster family which includes, for example, sunflowers, dandelion, daisies and asters, and of course the goldenrods. To give you a slightly different spin, a “sunflower” is not a flower; it’s an inflorescence.
The genus name for goldenrods, Solidago is derived from the Latin term solidare, which means to unite or make whole. It is a reference to the plant being historically used for healing wounds. It is still used by some herbalists, principally to treat kidney and urinary tract problems.
There are about ten species of goldenrods in North Dakota. Perhaps the most commonly observed species in our region is Canada goldenrod. You normally see it in a variety of habitats from waste places and road ditches to low prairie and the edge of woods. It’s roughly two-three feet tall with a pyramidal-shaped inflorescence.
Rigid goldenrod should also be familiar to most of you. This goldenrod has a “flat topped” inflorescence and is generally a little shorter than the Canada goldenrod. It is typically observed in road ditches and upland prairies across our region.
Some of you may blame goldenrods for causing hay fever. However, they are not wind pollinated so are innocent of all charges. But, the less conspicuous and wind pollinated ragweeds bloom about the same time: So blame them!
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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