Bright yellow goldenrod

Goldenrod is a perennial plant that is part of the aster family. The goldenrods are adorning our fall landscapes with their bright yellow blooms. Goldenrod is a perennial plant that is part of the aster family. They begin emerging from the ground in July and produce their small yellow flowers by mid September. These flowers stay in place until we receive a significant killing frost.

Goldenrod has a stout stalk and grows to a height of about 3 feet. The stalk will usually stand erect until it is matted down by heavy snows. Goldenrods spread by seeds and root sprouts arising from rhizomes. Since they display rhizome growth, goldenrods are somewhat invasive and might not be suitable for growing in flower beds.

You may find forms of goldenrod that are more compact, such as Fireworks or Golden Fleece, in local nurseries or online; their bright autumn color is a welcome addition to gardens.

The pollen is heavy and sticky so it does not disperse very far in the wind. Goldenrod depends on insects to spread its pollen. This lack of wind dispersion makes goldenrod less important as a source of allergies compared to a plant like ragweed.

There are nearly 100 species of goldenrod worldwide and they are found in North and South America and Asia. Goldenrod is the state flower of Kentucky and Nebraska.

Goldenrod has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and has many uses in herbal and traditional medicine. Extracts are used in wound-healing, kidney stones and other medicines that combat fungicidal infections.

Goldenrod has a large amount of latex, a natural source of rubber. The great inventor Thomas Edison cultivated goldenrod to maximize latex production, and he developed a plant that was 12 percent rubber by weight. Edison's good friend Harvey Firestone used goldenrod rubber for tires and Henry Ford used these tires on some of the earliest Model T cars. (See the FCFCDB Mission page to learn more of the Edison, Ford, and Firestone friendship.)

Nature Notes for 10/16/2011