Fourteen species of Goldenrod grow at The Quarry Gardens, and most of them are blooming right about now. The featured image pictures a fine show of Gray goldenrod along the road at the quarry overlook platform.
North America is the world’s center for goldenrods with about 100 native species. Not surprisingly for such a large family of similar plants, they can be difficult to distinguish. In a timely move, Devin Floyd and Drew Chaney, of the Center for Urban Habitats, have created a user-friendly key to identifying those at the Quarry Gardens. Their key clusters the 14 species into five groups based on the shapes of their flower heads, and then goes into the details of leaf shape, stem hairiness, etc., each ending with a positive identification of one of these:
Stiff goldenrod, Solidago rigida Silverrod, Solidago bicolor
Downy goldenrod, Solidago puberula Slender goldenrod, Solidago erecta
Showy goldenrod, Solidago speciosa Gray goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis
Pineywoods goldenrod, Solidago pinetorum Early goldenrod, Solidago juncea
Blue-stemmed goldenrod, Solidago caesia Zig-zag goldenrod, Solidago flexicaulis
Sweet goldenrod, Solidago odora Late goldenrod, Solidago gigantea
Tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima Canada goldenrod, Solidago canadensis
The key may be found printed at the QG’s Visitor Center, or here: Key to the Goldenrods (Solidago) of Quarry Gardens Not being especially skilled (or patient) with dichotomous keys, we’re still mystified by several of these, but here are photos of some easy ones:
Sweet goldenrod has leaves that smell like anise. It may be found in the meadow by the Visitor Center and the North Quarry waterside pollinator patch, among other places.
Silverrod might fool you you didn’t know that there is one white-flowering species of goldenrod. It may be found along the pine needle pathway to the overlook platform.
Stiff goldenrod may be found in the Demonstration garden by the Visitor Center.
Devin found this Slender goldenrod along the road by the South Quarry.
Pineywoods goldenrod volunteered—where else?—in the pinewoods along the path from the Visitor Center to the quarry overlook.
Showy goldenrod frames a view of the prairie that now covers the site of the first (middle) quarry. It is also among the 69 species planted or seeded into that prairie.
A few facts about Goldenrods:
- They are a food and nectar source for many insects.
- Their pollen does not cause hay fever; the culprit is ragweed, which blooms at the same time. Goldenrod has been used medicinally to reduceallergy symptoms.
- All are members of the Aster family, short-day plants that bloom in late summer.
- Thomas Edison, experimenting to extract the maximum amount of rubber from goldenrod, produced a 12-foot tall plant that was 12% rubber. The tires on the Model T Ford given to him by his friend Henry Ford were made of rubber from goldenrod.
- The young leaves are edible, and the plant has had some uses in traditional medicine for kidney ailments.
- The name Solidagomeans to make whole or heal.
- Cluster galls are a species indicator as they are found only on Canada goldenrod.