Jack Sanders, author of the engaging and beautiful book, The Secrets of Wildflowers, aptly describes goldenrods as visual delights. And so they are! This patch brightening the roadside lured me into taking its picture. “A delight to the eye,” wrote Mabel Osgood Wright in 1901. And so it is. There are an awful lot of them though — we have identified 15 species so far on the Domain. Some of them are easy to identify, but many look very, very much alike.
Goldenrod is a well-known traditional medicinal herb. North American Indians used a tea brewed from the leaves to treat numerous maladies. It’s also an important nectar plant for honeybees.
A member of the Aster family, goldenrod’s flowers are arranged in “heads” that contain both ray and disk flowers, although they’re not as conspicuous as the broad rays and rounded disks of sunflowers and coneflowers. In the close-up you can see several of both types of flowers on these goldenrod heads.
Masses of these small heads do make quite a display! These bright yellow beauties are good competitors, out to outshine their relatives in the Aster family that are blooming now – the sunflowers, thoroughworts, hawkweeds, lettuces, tickseeds, chickory, and more. All of these produce tiny fruits that won’t take long to mature once they’re pollinated. That’s a good thing, because our first frost is only weeks away. But until then we can enjoy these visual delights all along our roadsides!