Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod)
|Also known as:
|sun; dry, sandy soil; fields, prairies, savannas, railroads, edges of woods
|July - October
|1 to 5 feet
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Erect branching cluster up to 12 inches long at the top of the stem,with small auxiliary clusters arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are yellow, about ¼ inch across with 4 to 10 ray flowers (petals). The cluster tends to be densely packed, have short branches that are erect to ascending or curving upward, and is conical or cylindrical in outline.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are basal and alternate, the basal and lower stem leaves sometimes withered away by flowering time. Basal leaves are lance-elliptic to somewhat spoon-shaped, pointed at the tip, tapering to narrowly winged stalk, up to 12 inches long including the stem, to 3 inches wide, and may be shallowly or coarsely toothed or toothless. Stem leaves become smaller, more lance-elliptic, toothless, and stalkless as they ascend the stem, the mid and upper leaves up to about 3½ inches long and 1 inch wide.
Small leaves develop in the leaf axils especially on the upper stem. Surfaces are smooth to slightly rough textured. Stems are unbranched, single or multiple from the base, hairless except in the flower clusters, may be green or reddish. Plants often form large clumps and may form colonies.
The flower clusters of many goldenrods tend to droop or be pyramidal in outline, but Showy Goldenrod is more cylindric and stays erect, the short branches ascending or curving upward. While Bog Goldenrod (Solidago uliginosa) also has erect clusters and toothless stem leaves, its stem leaves are much longer (to 9 inches) and as its common name suggests it is a wetland species, where Showy Goldenrod prefers drier, sandy soil. Showy Goldenrod does very well in a sunny garden and, like most Goldenrods, is a pollinator magnet.
Breaking news: There were 3 varieties of S. speciosa, which have recently been elevated to species level. At the time of this writing the DNR had not split them out, but we expect that will happen sometime in the future, at which time we will revisit this species account and make changes accordingly. The 3 vars/species are:
- var. speciosa (S. speciosa) has basal leaves up to 2 inches wide that persist through flowering and are often coarsely toothed, and mid-stem leaves up to 1 inch wide that are not stiff or rough-textured or crowded on the stem;
- var. rigidiuscula (S. rigidiuscula) has basal leaves only up to ¾ inch wide that may not persist to flowering time and are toothless or shallowly toothed, and mid-stem leaves rarely as much as 2/3 inch wide that are stiff, slightly rough-textured, and often crowded on the stem. Note that crowded (or not) may be subjective.
- var. jejunifolia (S. jejunifolia) has fewer and narrower leaves, but further details are currently lacking.
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- Showy Goldenrod plant
- Showy Goldenrod plants
- a clump of Showy Goldenrod
- a colony of Showy Goldenrod
- garden-grown Showy Goldenrod
- basal leaves present at flowering time
- basal leaves withered away at flowering time
- more flowers
- pollinators on Showy Goldenrod
- a bumblebee party on Showy Goldenrod
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Dakota and Ramsey counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Dakota and Ramsey counties.
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