Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

First goldenrod for 2018

with 37 comments

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on September 26th I found my first flowering goldenrod for 2018. It was prairie goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis.

Then on September 4th on the far side of my neighborhood I photographed a tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima, that wasn’t as tall as it should have been because something had caused the inflorescence to take a 90° bend. I believe it’s the only right-angled goldenrod inflorescence I’ve ever seen.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 8, 2018 at 5:44 PM

37 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. The Goldenrod here in Southern Indiana is a Monarch magnet and makes for a wonderful complementary color for the beautiful colors of the Monarch, great pics BTW !!

    Bernie Kasper

    October 8, 2018 at 9:04 PM

    • The best monarch-attracting field of goldenrod and Maximilian sunflowers that I knew here got developed a few years ago, alas. Let’s hope yours endures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 8, 2018 at 9:58 PM

      • Is ‘Maximilian’ a variety, or a real species?


        October 8, 2018 at 11:06 PM

        • A real species, Helianthus maximiliani:


          Steve Schwartzman

          October 9, 2018 at 7:01 AM

          • Oh, that is cool! I have seen the seed. I just figured it was a cultivar. The name implies that it is a cultivar. Knowing that it is a species gives me a whole new respect for it.


            October 10, 2018 at 9:24 PM

            • You also have a meta-botanical clue in the fact that I show only native species here, not cultivars or exotics.

              Maximilian sunflowers are abundant here in the fall and are one of the season’s treats. The species is widespread through the Great Plains and is found in some other places as well:

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 10, 2018 at 9:59 PM

  2. I love massed stands of goldenrod.


    October 9, 2018 at 5:47 AM

  3. East and north of Houston, the goldenrod is blooming with a vengeance. I’m not sure which varieties I’m seeing along the roads, but some of it surely is S. altissima. I’ve seen a few Maximilian sunflowers, also along the road.

    Coincidentally, the best goldenrod I’ve seen recently was growing in the meadow at the Piney Woods Native Plant Center in Nacogdoches. When I read about the Lady Bird Johnson Demonstration Garden that’s part of it, I decided to come up for a look and spend a couple of days. The Native Plant Center in Austin was involved in the planning and development, and Lady Bird herself came for the dedication in 2000. I haven’t seen any right-angled goldenrod yet, but I’ve seen a lot of plants that are unfamiliar.

    Did you know there’s a rare white gaillardia that’s native to Texas? There is, and it’s one of the endangered plants the Center’s working with. Next spring or summer, I’m hoping to see that one in bloom.


    October 9, 2018 at 6:45 AM

    • I’m only too willing to see some goldenrod that’s blooming with a vengeance. Nature can get even with me in that way any time it wants to. Maybe the rain we keep having in Austin will make that happen here too. You must be glad you went to Nacogdoches.

      As soon as I got to “rare white gaillardia” I went and pulled out my copy of Rare Plants of Texas. There I found Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri. The book says this white-rayed variety grows only in Hardin, Newton, and Tyler County. Good luck seeing one in bloom in 2019.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2018 at 7:19 AM

      • That’s the one. There’s a thank-you letter written from Lady Bird to the folks at Nacogdoches after the garden dedication. They gave her some of the white gaillardia as a gift, for which she expressed great gratitude. She was planning to plant it up on her ranch.


        October 9, 2018 at 7:26 AM

        • The entry in Rare Plants of Texas notes that one botanist questions whether this white firewheel deserves taxonomic recognition, and says that further DNA research is needed. The book came out in 2007, so perhaps the taxonomy has been resolved by now.

          I wonder whether Lady Bird Johnson ever did plant the white firewheels at her ranch, and if so whether they’ve continued reproducing there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 9, 2018 at 7:36 AM

          • I have Eason’s new book with me, and it’s listed in there without any note about questionable taxonomic status. There’s also a note on current PNPC brochure that it’s one of three endangered species they’re working with. The others are Phlox nivalis texensis and Hibiscus dasycalyx. I’d think there would be a disclaimer or a note if there still was a question, but it shouldn’t be hard to get an authoritative answer about how things finally sorted out.


            October 9, 2018 at 7:53 AM

            • Here’s an interesting article on the subject from Stephen F. Austin State University, though I don’t know how old the article is:


              Steve Schwartzman

              October 9, 2018 at 8:24 AM

              • Funny how things work out. I met Dawn Stover, mentioned at the end of that article. I didn’t know who she was at the time. She was working with a crew when I was directed to ask her about the cutleaf grape fern and rattlesnake fern that were on Jason Singhurst’s initial plant inventory for the place — I believe that was done in 1999. She didn’t know the ferns, but knew Jason, and we chatted a bit.

                Today, I went back, looked her up, and asked about the G. aestivalis. The first words out of her mouth were, “Those are my babies!” She took me to another area of the plant center where some were growing, and mentioned that she knows where to find them in the wild in two counties. Of course, she didn’t mention a precise location, and I wouldn’t have expected her to.

                Anyway: there will be photos — no need to wait for next spring. As a matter of fact, I found all three of the center’s endangered plants in bloom. It’s mostly rained during my stay, but I couldn’t have had a better trip.


                October 9, 2018 at 10:06 PM

                • You did have good luck—and got the makings of one or more posts that I’ll be looking forward to. A successful trip indeed, despite the rain.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 9, 2018 at 10:11 PM

  4. Lovely to look at. Did you know that the bees make its nectar into stinky smelling honey?


    October 9, 2018 at 7:27 AM

  5. We haven’t really had the goldenrod displays we usually get, maybe because it has been so wet. If you want to see big sweeps of it blooming, you should come back here in the fall. Our prairies put on quite a show then. Usually.


    October 9, 2018 at 9:33 AM

    • I hope the continuing wetness here doesn’t suppress our goldenrod displays that way it has yours. The rain has kept me from reconnoitering. Maybe some good stands are out there yet, given that our season comes well after yours.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2018 at 9:36 AM

      • Goodness~I didn’t realize you were also getting a soaking. I keep telling myself how lucky we are to be getting water but really, things are getting pretty soggy out there.


        October 9, 2018 at 9:39 AM

        • Yeah, after months of near-drought we’ve had weeks of cloudy skies and intermittent rain. That includes now, when dark clouds are likely to drop more on us this afternoon. We still need it here, so no one’s complaining.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 9, 2018 at 1:34 PM

          • Since I wrote that comment a few minutes ago it has started raining.

            Steve Schwartzman

            October 9, 2018 at 1:38 PM

          • I’m enjoying sitting next to a wide open window in October, listening to a gentle breeze stir my wind chime. The skies are grey here too, something I really like.


            October 10, 2018 at 9:42 AM

            • And they’re still grey here too this morning after yesterday’s rain. The forecast for today says we’ll end up sunny, which would be a welcome change after weeks of mostly overcast skies.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 10, 2018 at 10:10 AM

              • I don’t know what we’ll have, but it dropped 50 degrees overnight. Brrr.


                October 11, 2018 at 10:26 AM

                • And I thought it was cool here this morning after the overnight temperature had dropped into the low 60s.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 11, 2018 at 10:31 AM

                • That was probably pretty chilly, comparatively.


                  October 12, 2018 at 8:08 AM

                • Comparatively, yes. The forecast is calling for low 50s Monday night into Tuesday. By mid-October it’s not unusual, even this far south.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  October 12, 2018 at 8:47 AM

                • At least you can be assured you probably won’t go far below that. I keep hoping there will be an upside to global warming regarding winters here but so far, not so much.


                  October 12, 2018 at 10:03 AM

  6. I haven’t seen Goldenrod yet in these parts, but I look forward to it! Did you know Goldenrod is the Nebraska state flower?


    October 9, 2018 at 1:59 PM

    • If I did, I’d forgotten it. According to Wikipedia: “The goldenrod is the state flower of the U.S. states of Kentucky (adopted 1926) and Nebraska (adopted 1895). Goldenrod was recently named the state wildflower of South Carolina. The sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora) is the state herb of Delaware.”

      Let’s hope you see some sooner rather than later in the Sooner State.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2018 at 2:03 PM

  7. I made a fast trip to Mississippi last month ; it was nice to see the goldenrod in bloom, and I photographed several on a walk at my son’s property. Nature sometimes needs no formal tampering – it’s lovely as is…

    I noted your smartweed post – always loved the smartweed, and this past weekend I might have spotted a white variant — not sure as it was blooming near the water on a very-steep slope. Will wait til there’s a partner in exploring near the water’s edge.. tis a muy profunda poza honda!!!!!

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    October 9, 2018 at 7:02 PM

    • I associate you so much with Ecuador it’s hard to imagine you in Mississippi. Too bad it was a brief trip or you could’ve scooted over to see your blog friends in Texas.

      As you know, I’m not a gardener, so I’m at home in untampered-with nature — except insofar as I manage to make my camera record it in appealing ways.

      And yes: better safe than sorry when exploring on steep slopes near the water’s edge.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2018 at 9:42 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: