Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sweet Goldenrod - Solidago odora var. odora

Sweet or Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora var. odora) is an extremely widespread species with wonderful fragrant foliage.  It occurs throughout much of the eastern half of the U.S. in upland habitats, but in Florida, it is confined almost exclusively to the panhandle.  It is essentially the northern version of Chapman's goldenrod (S. odora var. chapmanii) that I have discussed previously.
In terms of habitat requirements, ecology, and landscape potential, sweet goldenrod is virtually identical to Chapman's goldenrod and I will not repeat myself here in this blog.  They are both widely occurring in open upland habitats and they play similar roles in the landscape.  Though sweet goldenrod's leaves are often more linear than Chapman's goldenrod, the major difference lies in the fragrance of the foliage.  As its common name suggests, sweet goldenrod has highly aromatic foliage owing to the essential oils in its leaves.  This fragrance is quite noticeable when the leaves are crushed and they can be very successfully used in herbal teas and potpouris. 
This is a wonderful goldenrod for home landscapes, but it is only recommended for north Florida.  Success further south is unlikely and Chapman's goldenrod should be used instead.  Because of its limited range in Florida, sweet goldenrod is rarely offered by Florida nurseries, but it is widely propagated in states to our immediate north.
The photos above do not give this species justice.  They were taken of a plant in our Pinellas County landscape that we have attempted to push a bit.  Judging from the plant's condition, it is not welcoming our attempt to make it live this far south. I just couldn't resist having access to the wonderful foliage....


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