If there ever was a signal that school’s about to start, it’s the appearance of the goldenrods, massed on roadsides and trailsides, and along fencerows. A goldenrod is easy to distinguish from other members of the Aster Family — has quite a distinctive look with those rows of tiny yellow heads lines up on stems or branches. But telling one goldenrod species from another can be difficult! This one’s Canada goldenrod, Solidago canadensis, probably our most common species. I cannot see a goldenrod without thinking of Helen Hunt Jackson‘s classic poem, September, that recounts much that’s happening botanically as the year turns toward autumn. It starts like this:
The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down…
Ms. Jackson, a 19th century American poet and writer, was an activist for improved treatment of Native Americans by the government.