Sunday, September 25, 2011

Solidago tortifolia - Twistedleaf goldenrod

Twistedleaf goldenrod (Solidago tortifolia) is yet another large and often dominating species within this genus. It is a common species in open fields and woodlands across most of Florida and in much of the Southeast from Texas to Virginia. 
This species is deciduous, but grows rapidly through the summer to reach a mature height of 6-8 feet by fall.  In Pinellas County, it blooms in mid-September into October, just a bit ahead of the peak bloom time for pinebarren goldenrod (S. fistulosa), another large goldenrod sometimes confused with this species.
Unique to this goldenrod is its twisted leaves.  Each is willowlike and most have a half twist that is quite distinctive. The leaves going up the stem also remain nearly the same size as the lower leaves.
The flowers occur on arching stems near the tip of the plants.  These are arranged in open panicles like many other species, but they are not as uniformly arranged as in pinebarren goldenrod and the side stems often fall away from the main stem and are nearly horizontal to the ground surface below.  This makes the overall infloresences irregular and a bit more open than most.
Twistedleaf goldenrod is somewhat "weedy" in nature and is a difficult species to maintain in small landscapes.  It suckers extensively and becomes quite dominant when planted with other species.  In expansive settings, however, it can be striking with its large yellow inflorescences and its interesting foliage.  It is only very infrequently offered by native plant nurseries in Florida  and may be difficult to locate.  We have grown it at Hawthorn Hill, but do not plan to offer it commercially. 

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