Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Canada Goldenrod - Solidago canadensis

Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is an extremely common goldenrod in north Florida, but only found in scattered locations elsewhere; it has been reported from Alachua, Marion, Seminole, Polk, and Lee Counties. It also is an extremely common goldenrod throughout much of North America, being absent only in the extreme Northwest. Canada goldenrod is an upland species, most commonly encountered in old field and disturbed sites.  In these locations, it suckers aggressively and forms large populations. 
Like most species in this genus, Canada goldenrod is deciduous and dies back to the ground each winter.  The dead stems, with their fluffy seedheads, remain standing throughout the winter, however. New basal leaves emerge in early spring. The leaves are oval and the margins have noticeable teeth on the margins.  What most differentiates this species from its close cousin, pinebarren goldenrod (S. fistulosa) is that each leaf is noticeably 3-nerved.  This trait is evident in the photos above.
Canada goldenrod eventually reaches a mature height of about 3-4 feet. Blooming occurs in the very late fall, hence one of its other common names - "late goldenrod". These photos were taken in north Florida in early December, past the time when most species would still have flowers.  The flower heads are in loose panicles at the top of the stem and the small yellow blooms are typical for the genus.
All goldenrods are excellent nectar sources for pollinating insects and make wonderful additions to a landscape targeting bees and butterflies. Canada goldenrod, however, does not play well with its neighbors and is difficult to control in all but the largest planting areas.  Unless you are restoring or creating an expansive prairie setting, use this one with caution and prepare yourself to weed out the suckers that spread beyond the area they are welcome in.
Canada goldenrod is not offered commercially in Florida, but would be easy to propagate from seed or suckers collected legally. Sow the seed just beneath the surface and sit back...

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