Species Profile: Canada Goldenrod

Although it’s often unfairly fingered as a culprit behind hay fever, Canada goldenrod still represents an invasive North American export to Europe and China. 

Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is a common wildflower throughout the United States and Canada.  From its creeping rhizome and shallow root system arise stems that may grow up to 6 feet in the right conditions.  Like other members of the genus Solidago, the stems of Canada goldenrod are capped by a mass of small yellow flowers.  A more detailed description of the flowers and leaves can be found here.

Canada goldenrod photo courtesy of www.gardenwiseonline.ca

Throughout North America, Canada goldenrod often receives unwarranted blame for causing hay fever, although goldenrods tend to be insect-pollinated, and allergies are caused by wind-pollinated plants such as common ragweed.  In North America, Canada goldenrod can represent an unwanted weed in agricultural fields and many other habitats, as it is often one of the first colonists to appear following a disturbance.  But this plant has reached truly invasive status in Europe and China, where it was originally introduced as an ornamental plant.  Canada goldenrod grows aggressively and can crowd out native vegetation.  Few goldenrods grow native outside of North America, so Canada goldenrod invasions in Europe and China may also benefit from escaping herbivores.

For the interested invasivore, dried Canada goldenrod looks great in flower arrangements, and the leaves can be eaten like any fresh green.  The flowers can be steeped for tea.  And soon at invasivore.org, we’ll try our hand at making flour out of the seeds!

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