Friday, October 22, 2010

Chapman's goldenrod - Solidago odora var. chapmanii


Chapman's goldenrod (Solidago odora) occurs in two distinct forms in Florida.  Variety odora occurs throughout north Florida and south to Hernando County.  Its foliage produces a distinct fragrance somewhat like anise.  Variety chapmanii occurs throughout the peninsula and into the central panhandle.  Their ranges obviously overlap and telling them apart is difficult.  Besides the slight differences in foliage fragrance, they differ slightly in foliage shape and in the pattern of pubescence on the leaves and stems. The variety pictured above is chapmanii as the leaves are less linear.
Regardless of variety, this species is one of the best goldenrods for home landscaping.  It is extremely adaptable to most landscape settings (except soils that are too wet) and is better behaved than most other species.  Chapman's goldenrod is deciduous.  By early summer, it reaches its mature height of about 3 feet and begins blooming.  Blooming can occur over a wide variety of months, but is most common to the summer months.  In our garden, it is finished before the fall goldenrods begin.  Flowering occurs on the tips of each stem and the heads are arranged in very open loose panicles. 
This species suckers, but not aggressively.  Individual plants eventually work their way into most corners of the planting bed, but they tend to occur as scattered individual stems; not as dense colonies.  It also spreads well by seed.
Chapman's goldenrod works extremely well in mixed wildflower plantings, combined with species such as grassleaf goldenaster (Pityopsis graminifolia), blazing stars (Liatris spp.), Florida paintbrush (Carphephorus corymbosus), and similar medium-sized species common to open well-drained sites.  Because it tends to move about the garden, plant it individually or as small clusters in the middle portion of the bed and be prepared to weed out plants that find their way to the front.  Chapman's goldenrod and its other variety, Sweet goldenrod, are generally available commercially and should not be difficult to find. If you wish to add a goldenrod to your wildflower garden, this is a good choice.

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