Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Flowering goldenrod colony

with 37 comments

Cumulus clouds enhanced this get-on-the-ground-and-aim-upward view of a flowering goldenrod colony (probably Solidago altissima) at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge near the Gulf of Mexico on October 7th:

A higher vantage point from farther back shows how densely expansive the flowering goldenrod colony was:

Despite the overnight freeze in Austin this morning, the few isolated goldenrods in my neighborhood whose flowers I’ve been observing look as good and fresh as before the freeze. Hardy plants, these goldenrods.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 12, 2019 at 4:25 PM

37 Responses

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  1. Wow. That’s as dense as the super bloom earlier this year in California. Very nice shot against the cloud.

    Michael Scandling

    November 12, 2019 at 6:17 PM

    • I remember those super bloom photographs of California you showed us in the spring. Texas’s answer to that this year came in great wildflower fields south of San Antonio. This fall in Austin, after months of drought, I haven’t been able to do anything on a similarly grand scale, but I made up for it with these pictures from the Texas coast, which got considerably more rain through the summer than the center of the state did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 12, 2019 at 6:59 PM

    • Was that in the Antelope Valley, or in various places out there?


      November 24, 2019 at 9:58 PM

  2. Cumulus clouds, blue sky and yellow make a fine combination, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    November 12, 2019 at 7:28 PM

  3. It’s a very nice variety of goldenrod, a nice sunny scene

    Robert Parker

    November 12, 2019 at 7:38 PM

  4. There’s nothing prettier than goldenrod against a blue sky, unless it might be goldenrod glowing against a blue sky and clouds. On the other hand, that expansive field of gold is impressive in its own way. I’m sure there are (or were) fields like this on my side of the bay; I just haven’t seen them — I’m glad you had the chance.

    Goldenrods are hard for me to distinguish, but I think you’re right about this being S. altissima. The last couple of weeks, there’s been a combination of Canada goldenrod (S. canadensis) and seaside goldenrod (S. sempervirens) blooming along with this species at Brazoria. The BONAP map doesn’t show S. canadensis here, but the USDA map has it in a few widely separated counties and multiple sightings have been recorded on iNaturalist, including at Brazoria and the San Bernard refuge. I especially like the seaside goldenrod, although it’s so low to the ground and entangled in grasses that photos of masses of it can be a little messy.


    November 13, 2019 at 8:17 AM

    • Anahuac made up for not seeing much goldenrod in Austin. We’d seen some stands along US 290 on the way to the coast, but this outdid them all.

      As you said, identifying goldenrod species presents some challenges, which is a way of saying that I often can’t tell what I’m looking at. Iowaplants.com quotes from the eighth edition of Gray’s Manual of Botany: “Solidago, like Aster, is one of our most difficult genera. Natural hybridization frequently occurs and the species are also highly plastic. For proper study full specimens, showing subterranean parts and basal leaves as well as the whole flowering stem, are essential. Identification of fragmentary specimens is safe only after long familiarity with the group.”

      The site also notes: “One species, S. altissima, was previously considered a separate species—then it was considered to be a variety of S. canadensis (S. canadensis var. scabra). Now, according to the Flora of North America (FNA) it is considered a single species again, but with two subspecies (subsp. altissima and subsp. gilvocanescens.”

      Yikes. Taxonomy will never be as easy as photography.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2019 at 10:08 AM

  5. Golden rod is often grown in English gardens. I like to see it growing in the wild.


    November 13, 2019 at 1:39 PM

    • If you want to see its original wild, come on over to North America. Early British visitors here grew so fond of goldenrod that they took it back home with them; so began the long gardening tradition you mentioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2019 at 1:46 PM

  6. Lovely capture with the clouds, Steve! I do like that expansive carpet of yellow, too.

    Ellen Jennings

    November 13, 2019 at 3:07 PM

    • The soft clouds worked in my favor, giving me something to play the goldenrod off against other than blue sky—or worse, a whitish gray sky. And yes, the expansive carpet was a delight, my magic carpet.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2019 at 3:16 PM

  7. Stunning! I just love that yellow against the blue sky

    M.B. Henry

    November 13, 2019 at 4:58 PM

    • As soon as I saw this I knew I’d spend time on the ground aiming upward to take advantage of the cumulus clouds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2019 at 6:50 PM

  8. Great use of the cloud. The goldenrod tops seem to be reaching for it.

    Steve Gingold

    November 13, 2019 at 5:49 PM

    • Solidago altissima is an excellent species of goldenrod with which to convey that reach-for-the-sky look.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2019 at 6:52 PM

  9. Ah, the Nebraska state flower… always a favorite of this used-to-be Nebraska farm girl.


    November 17, 2019 at 7:50 PM

  10. by now, November 24, they must be finishing up. It is starting to get cool even here.


    November 24, 2019 at 10:00 PM

    • You’re right: it’s late in the season now. One goldenrod plant that sprang up in isolation by the side of a street in my neighborhood at least a month ago still has a flowering top that looks fresh.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 25, 2019 at 5:16 AM

  11. Indeed they are, and as you noted, S. altissima will happily populate the entire planet, given the opportunity.


    December 4, 2019 at 8:55 AM

    • We sometimes get fields full of tall goldenrod in Austin. I didn’t see any this year, so the trip to the coast gave me my goldenrod high for 2019.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 4, 2019 at 9:20 AM

      • We have many Solidago species here. Ecologists have taken to yanking S. altissima out because it quickly overwhelms all else. Perhaps you and Eve would like to visit in the early fall. I have new places to share with you, and you’d get lots of goldenrod 🙂


        December 5, 2019 at 8:30 AM

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