Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A closer look at goldenrod

with 19 comments

Goldenrod Flowering 4288A

As the title says, here’s a closer look at goldenrod, Solidago spp. Don’t the flowers look happy?

This October 7th view is once again from Andrews Crossing at Windy Hills Rd. in Kyle, a fast-growing suburb south of Austin. The little pink flowers in the background are prairie agalinis.

Over the three weeks since I took this picture many of the goldenrod plants in central Texas have gradually been fading, with a few already having gone to seed and turning fluffy.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 26, 2014 at 5:34 AM

19 Responses

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  1. They look like they are happy dancers. Do you get stained yellow if you walk amongst the goldenrod? Goldenrod (and I think broomweed) are supposed to be good natural dyes.

    Gallivanta

    October 26, 2014 at 7:52 AM

    • Happy dancers: that’s how I saw them.

      If you walk through a dense group of flowering goldenrod, you can indeed come away with yellow-orange on your clothing.

      You’re right that broomweed and goldenrod have both been used to make dye, but you’ll probably be surprised that goldenrod has also been used as a source of rubber.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      • Now that is a surprise; rubber!

        Gallivanta

        October 26, 2014 at 6:15 PM

        • In the mid-20th century scientists did experiments on mass-producing rubber from goldenrod, but then commercial methods of making synthetic rubber came along and carried the day.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 26, 2014 at 6:48 PM

  2. Glorious goldenrod! My dog enjoys the leaves as salad, and, as I’ve mentioned previously, they help in the battle against dog-strangling vine (Cynanchum). Many people still believe the pollen causes their allergies, but as the flower is insect-pollinated (not wind-pollinated), they’re blaming the wrong plant.

    beeholdn

    October 26, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    • Right you are: it’s the wind-pollinated plants (which in my area include two species of sumpweed and several of ragweed, including the giant ragweed that often grows 2–3 meters tall) that trigger allergies in many people. I’m one of those people, and I’ve had my share of sneezing and of itchy eyes and throat these past weeks, but those are prices I pay to get pictures of our glorious fall wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      • I’m glad that you do, many thanks 🙂

        beeholdn

        December 20, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        • You’re welcome. A few days ago the Ashe junipers began putting out their airborne pollen, which is the bane of winter here. There’s always something.

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 20, 2014 at 9:07 AM

  3. I visited Butchart Gardens a month or so ago. A more elegant version of goldenrod, perhaps Solidago ‘Golden Wings'(?), was growing next to Joe-Pye Weed (used to be Eupatorium, now Eutrochium). It was a lovely combination, like a cultivated garden version of your photo.

    mrsdaffodil

    October 26, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    • I visited those gardens in the year 2000.

      There are many native goldenrod species in North America, plus, as you mentioned, various hybrids and cultivars. The most common species in Austin is a native one, tall goldenrod, which is what the plants in the photograph could well have been.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2014 at 6:50 PM

  4. I have just finished reading a lot of books written in the late 1800’s and they mentioned golden rod a lot. It seemed a very popular flower to decorate homes with. We don’t have them in New Zealand so now I know what they look like. Great photo. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    October 26, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    • In Familiar Flowers of Field and Garden, originally published in 1895, F. Schuyler Mathew wrote:

      “The golden-rod is certainly our representative American wild flower. Very many years ago, when the subject of a national flower became interesting, Mr. Louis Prang, of Boston, published a little tract suggesting the arbutus and golden-rod as competitors for the position of honor, and requested an expression of choice from the people. The response was decisive; and the vote was cast by an overwhelming majority for the golden-rod.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2014 at 6:54 PM

  5. Lovely field of glorious yellowness. Nice to see as ours are now browned and dry waiting for winter to crush them to the ground to wait for next year to come back to yellowness once more.

    Steve Gingold

    October 26, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    • Many of ours are fading now too, even in the warmer climate, but I’m still seeing a few fresh and bright goldenrod flower heads. I’ve also seen a few that have already turned fluffy.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2014 at 6:57 PM

  6. Ours are in their prime now, and they look entirely as happy as yours. I mentioned earlier that they seem prolific this year, but in just the past week, they’ve begun to put on a show like I’ve never seen. Even in town, every drainage ditch and every vacant lot is covered. It’s so beautiful, and with the bright sunlight and clear blue skies we’ve had for the past week — well, who cares about a lack of colorful trees?

    shoreacres

    October 26, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    • Too bad the coast is a few hours away, or I’d take a quick jaunt to photograph that bumper crop of goldenrod. I won’t get to enjoy it, but I’m glad you’re getting the best show of it, blue skies and all, that you’ve ever seen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2014 at 9:11 PM

  7. I am such a fan of loud, bold, fall color…Love the photo.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 27, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    • If loud, bold, fall color is your thing, Charlie, I can see why you like this photo. Pictures of some more bright fall flowers are coming over the next few days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2014 at 2:44 PM


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