Friday, October 26, 2012

Wreath Goldenrod - Solidago caesia

Wreath (aka Bluestem) goldenrod (Solidago caesia) occurs naturally in Florida only in the panhandle, but it ranges throughout most of eastern North America - extending north to Quebec and Ontario and west to Texas.  This is a species most likely encountered in dry open woodlands and edges. It is adaptable to sun, but does well in partial shade.
Wreath goldenrod is a perennial that dies back to the ground in early winter and re-emerges in spring.  It is a rather diminutive member of the goldenrod genus, rarely standing taller than 3 feet and characterized by thin unbranched stems.  These stems are maroon/purple in color for much of their length, giving rise to its other common name.  The leaves are thin and elliptical in shape, sometimes twisting a bit as in S. tortifolia.
It is very distinctive is the way its flowers are produced in very small clusters in the axils of the leaves.  As other members of this wonderful genus, the blooms are bright canary yellow and exceptional at attracting a wide variety of pollinators.  Flowering occurs in fall, September to the north and October further south.
While many goldenrods sucker and spread aggressively in the landscape, wreath goldenrod does not. This makes it an extremely well-behaved addition to a mixed wildflower garden. Its smaller size also allows it to be used in the middle section and mixed with such species as blazing stars, Florida paintbrush, and the like.  Currently, this species is only being propagated in Florida by Dan Miller, Trillium Gardens, Tallahassee.  We purchased plants from Dan in the spring of 2012 and added them to our landscape here at Hawthorn Hill - and the photos above are of our plants in late October.  Though it is too early to evaluate their hardiness this far south, I am encouraged by their adaptability so far and their beauty in our mixed beds.