Prairie Goldenrod

Common Name: Prairie Goldenrod[1]

Scientific Name: Solidago rigida (S. patula v. patula)

Description: Hardy, herbaceous, North American summer-flowering perennial; large, showy heads of bright yellow flower clusters; leaves turn dusty rose in fall; attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, goldfinches, and other songbirds

Size: Grows 3 to 5 feet high in clumps; spreading roots

Cultural Information: Prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained sandy or loamy garden soil

USDA Zones: 2 through 9

Historical Notes: This showy member of the Aster family occurs naturally in prairies, meadows, and savannas from New England to Saskatchewan, south to Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. It was discovered and introduced to science in 1710 and named by Linnaeus. Bernard McMahon recommended several goldenrod species in his book, The American Gardener's Calendar, 1806.[2] William Cobbett, the English pamphleteer and farmer, wondered about its ornamental use. He wrote:

"Nay, that accursed stinking thing, with a yellow flower, called the 'Plain-Weed,' which is the torment of the neighboring farmer, has been, above all plants in this world, chosen as most conspicuous ornament of the front of the King of England's grandest palace, that of Hampton Court, where, growing in a rich soil to the height of five or six feet, it, under the name 'Golden Rod', nods over the whole length of the edge of the walk, three quarters of a mile long and, perhaps, thirty feet wide, the most magnificent, perhaps, in Europe."[3]

Prairie Goldenrod can be used in wildflower plantings and provides food and habitat for wildlife.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. McMahon, 606.
  3. Cobbett, The American Gardener or a Treatise... (London: C. Clement, 1821), no. 330.

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