by Jane Scully
Goldenrods, with more than 85 species of goldenrods in the United States, bloom from July through October in thickets, fields and open areas and edges of woods. They even interbreed, making exact identification only for the botanically hardy.
These plants stand anywhere from 1' to 6 'tall, with small flowers having disk flowers and 6 to 11 ray flowers-indeed, a composite flower. Leaves are up to 5" long, rough, sharply toothed, very hairy and wrinkled.
Goldenrods are a native flower here but are cultivated elsewhere. Their name comes from the Latin meaning "to make whole" or "to heal." They are believed to have medicinal powers in healing wounds. The dried plant, made into a tea, was very popular during the American Revolution.
So popular was it that, during Queen Elizabeth's reign, dried goldenrod was imported to England and sold for half a crown per ounce. Only the well-to-do could afford such prices! However, as one author reported in 1633, when goldenrod was found growing wild in a nearby shire, its reputation as a healing herb rapidly diminished. "Then, no one would give half-a-crown for a hundred-weight of it!" he observed wryly.
Goldenrods are often mistakenly blamed for causing hay fever. Hay fever is caused by ragweed, whose pollen is abundant and carried by the wind. Goldenrods are insect-pollinated as suggested by their showy flowers and their pollen is not airborne.
Photos by the author