Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Not wanting to be remiss

with 26 comments

Goldenrod flowering; click for greater detail.

I don’t know how it happened, but I haven’t shown you a single picture of goldenrod, Solidago altissima, which has been flowering in Austin for the past month. So here’s a goldenrod plant I photographed at the edge of a waterless Bull Creek on September 28. Note that the buds have opened at the tip of the flower stalk but are less advanced farther down. There’s no extra charge for the wispy clouds that complement the goldenrod.

If you’d like more information about Solidago altissima, including a clickable map showing the many places in North America where this species grows, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2011 at 5:32 AM

26 Responses

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  1. Wonderful website.

    lois wilson

    October 24, 2011 at 6:16 AM

  2. Beautiful!

    Ellen Grace Olinger

    October 24, 2011 at 6:27 AM

  3. Very nice!


    October 24, 2011 at 10:38 AM

  4. Another fabulous image, Steve. I like the composition — the curve of the flower stem bending into the arc of the cloud (jet-trail?). Symmetry without feeling staged.

    Good to see on the USDA map just how widespread goldenrod is. I know the bees love it here in S. Vermont. This looks like one of the dozen or so nearly cloudless days we get in VT. Up until about two weeks ago, bees were still active on goldenrod, but with the recent frosts everything is now in late autumn mode, that wonderful waiting stillness that almost qualifies as a distinct season (like mud-season next spring) here in New England.

    Good to see, too, that at least some things are surviving the wickedly long drought you’ve had there.


    October 24, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    • I appreciate your compliment. You’re probably right that the long and wispy cloud started out as a jet trail.

      I first learned about native plants in Austin in 1999. In August of 2000 I went back to Long Island, the place where I grew up, for a visit, and I was amazed to see goldenrod. Obviously it had been there all through my childhood, but I’d never paid any attention.

      Sorry to hear that you have only a dozen or so nearly cloudless skies. Here in Texas we’ve lately carried that to an extreme, with most days delivering a clear blue sky.

      I’ve been surprised that, despite the drought, I’ve had no trouble finding wildflowers to photograph even in the hottest part of the year. Now that we’re in our version of fall—far from any frost yet—the expected species are doing their thing and providing me plenty of flowers to portray.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2011 at 12:14 PM

  5. My bees are appreciating the Goldenrod this fall. The weather’s rapid fluctuations in temperatures have had them ‘bearding’ on the outside of hive one day and packed tightly into the hive the next readying themselves for a long winter’s snooze. Unfortunately, the massive amounts of Goldenrod’s pollen and nectar they are packing in on these warmer days smells retched! I am nonetheless glad for them to have the additional stores to sustain them over winter.
    Some liken the smell to rotten socks, but I think it smells like rotten fermenting tomatoes! ;P
    ~ Lynda


    October 24, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    • Yes, dense displays of goldenrod can have an overpowering smell, but they look so pretty, and they attract so many insects, that I can’t complain. At least the goldenrod mostly leaves my allergies alone, unlike the various species of ragweed and sumpweed that are flowering all over the place now. We haven’t yet had the fluctuations in temperature that you report, but the forecast is for a significant cooling to hit us in a couple of days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2011 at 12:18 PM

  6. Nice post! And thanks for throwing in the wispy clouds for free 😉

    It’s great to see Goldenrod that is still flowering… ours stopped blooming weeks ago…


    October 24, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    • Because the wispy clouds came to me as a bonus, I would have been an ingrate to charge extra for them.

      So you have goldenrod in Berlin too? Another import from America, or something native to your area? (My biggest botanical reference book says that a few species of Solidago are native to Eurasia).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      • We actually have several invasive Goldenrod species here in Berlin! The one that we see most often is Solidago canadensis, but we also have one native species (European goldenrod, Solidago virgaurea).


        October 24, 2011 at 5:35 PM

      • As far as I can tell, the names Solidago canadensis and Solidago altissima seem to get used interchangeably. It’s interesting to me that the species name virgaurea is a Latin translation of the English word goldenrod. Does S. virgaurea look different enough from the American species that it’s easy to recognize?

        Steve Schwartzman

        October 24, 2011 at 5:49 PM

  7. I love how it seems the goldenrod is reaching for the sky. Very nicely done. Makes me smile. 🙂


    October 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    • Thank you, Katie, and I’m happy to make you smile. I’m also pleased that you see the goldenrod as if it’s reaching for the sky.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2011 at 12:28 PM

  8. I don’t recall that I posted a photo of goldenrod recently either. Perhaps because I didn’t have a shot that nice!


    October 24, 2011 at 10:53 PM

    • And that’s a nice way to put it. Thanks. I’m assuming the goldenrod in Montana has long since passed its peak, because even here in central Texas a lot of it has faded.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2011 at 8:47 AM

  9. […] only a few of them. In other years I’ve watched them in large numbers gathering nectar from goldenrod and Maximilian sunflowers, but the one in today’s photograph is the first can recall seeing […]

  10. Hi Steve
    As winter takes hold…it was 15°F here this am…it is nice to see goldenrod and remember summer for a moment. Nice bee’s-eye view too.
    Unfortunately, too many people confuse goldenrod with ragweed regarding allergies. As far as I know it has little if any allergic effect on people but gets pulled up in folks yards which is too bad as it brings in a lot of beneficial bees and adds some lovely late season color as well.
    Anyway, nice image Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    December 18, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    • Even though this picture is from September 28, as recently as a few days ago I still found some inconspicuous bits of flowering goldenrod. The all-time latest I’ve ever seen was this past January, when I found a couple of healthy goldenrod plants flowering right by the side of a street in my neighborhood.

      You’re right that the modern take on goldenrod is that, unlike ragweed, it’s not an allergen. The fact that so many bees and other insects are attracted to it is a good sign that the plant is not wind-pollinated.

      Sorry it was 15° by you this morning; here in Austin this afternoon the temperature is 60°.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 18, 2011 at 2:08 PM

      • Yes, 15° is getting a bit on the chilly side, but then in the summer when you hit the 100° days I’ll be sorry for you. 🙂 It’s still early for some really good ice photography, but once we start having steady nights in the teens and days in the twenties some really good formations will present themselves. I hate the cold but I love what it does for ice.
        I was glad to see that you signed on with WhyTake. I love the algae shot.

        Steve Gingold

        December 18, 2011 at 7:19 PM

      • My body is such that I tolerate 100° a whole lot better than I tolerate 15°, but I’ll admit that even I come home exhausted after a few hours outdoors in the Texas summer heat. And it would be fun to have ice available—for a little while, anyhow—to play with photographically. Once every so many years here we get an ice storm, and then I do play for as long as my extremities can keep from freezing.

        Thanks for alerting your readers to whytake.net. My first glance revealed many beautiful pictures, so I’ll see how it goes. My picture of the algae, by the way, was a popular one in the early days of this blog:


        Steve Schwartzman

        December 18, 2011 at 8:01 PM

  11. […] of the Mexican hat that you saw two posts back was about to fade, the bright yellow of these nearby goldenrod flowers had just emerged, and the buds at the bottom of the photograph were soon to add more. The […]

  12. Beautiful yellow against a majestic blue sky. 🙂


    January 21, 2012 at 11:24 AM

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