Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Goldenrod

Today’s featured wildflower is goldenrod, a common sight along roadsides and bike trails throughout Iowa and most of North America. Because goldenrod typically blooms in late summer, hay fever sufferers often attribute allergies caused by ragweed to this pretty plant instead. Photos are after the jump.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Dozens of goldenrod species are native to North America, according to the native plant database at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The goldenrods belong to the aster family, and some of the most common species in Iowa are called solidago. Goldenrods can be difficult to distinguish, even for experts, and often share the same common names. “Tall goldenrod,” “late goldenrod,” “giant goldenrod,” or “Canada goldenrod” may refer to solidago altissima, solidago canadensis, or solidago gigantea, for instance.

I’m not sure whether these photos are solidago altissima or gigantea, but they have the textbook large clusters of tiny yellow flowers.

goldenrod, Goldenrod blooming in central Iowa, August 2012

goldenrod, Goldenrod blooming in central Iowa, August 2012

The goldenrod is the state flower of Nebraska, the state flower of Kentucky, and the official state wildflower of South Carolina.

According to Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands by Sylvan Runkel and Alvin Bull,

Both Indians and pioneers used goldenrod for burns, intestinal disorders, and lung problems. They also used leaves of some species as a tea substitute. Other Indian uses included treatment of fevers, bee stings, and diseases of women.

The Meskwaki tribe also burned the plant to produce a smoke inhalant for a person who had fainted. In their early trival medicine, the also cooked goldenrod with bone of an animal that died about the same time a baby was born, and then washed the baby in the resulting liquid to insure its ability to talk and laugh.

Goldenrod tends to grow in large colonies, but this photo gives a decent sense of what a single stem looks like (sorry the flower clusters are blurry).

goldenrod alone, Goldenrod blooming in central Iowa, August 2012

As I mentioned above, goldenrod is not responsible for hay fever allergies. The plant is pollinated primarily by insects, not wind. Here are a couple of bugs enjoying a feast.

goldenrod with insects, Goldenrod blooming in central Iowa, August 2012

Tags: Wildflowers
  • "Opinionology" just called...

    …with a (definite) push-poll for IA HS #25.  Julian Garret (Winterset?) probably sponsored the call.  Gave them both barrels for Katie Routh (the Democratic candidate from Norwalk).  Didn’t answer all the questions – such as “favorable/unfavorable: the Iowa legislature”–COME ON!  At least break it down to House and Senate!!  Had fun doing it, tho…made the nice young lady earn her keep.

  • Bugs

    Your two bugs look sort of like Japanese Beetles.

    We went to Lowes and bought one of those zip-bottom bag traps his year and caught and disposed of maybe 6-8 gallon-size freezer bags full of J Beetles over the course of a few weeks. We probably attracted J Beetles from all over the neighborhood but I do really believe that my vulnerable shrubbery suffered less damage this year thanks to the trap.

    BTW, I can’t describe the smell of a (sealed even) freezer bag half filled with dead and dying Japanese Beetles.

    • interesting

      Someone was telling me traps just lure more of the bugs onto your property, and that the best thing is for your neighbors to set out lots of traps. But it sounds like you’ve had success with them.

  • Heckroth and Schwab

    I’ve given small donations to both Dick Schwab and Bill Heckroth this cycle.  I hope to give to one of them again, where would the money be better spent?  Sandy Salmon scares me a little bit, I’m sure she’s a nice person, but her views are too old school in the wrong areas.  

    I wonder if Schwab doesn’t have a better shot at his race though.  

    • I think Heckroth is well-positioned

      in that district, because his base is in the population center of Waverly, where Salmon is not as well-known. He should be able to get a decent crossover vote.

      There are so many House districts within reach, it’s hard to know where donations would be best targeted.  

  • Beetle traps

    Conservative-demo, I do know what you mean. A neighbor emptied two large Japanese beetle traps onto the gravel road near my house, and the stench was incredible.

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