Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Identifying Goldenrods (or Not!)

The dominant flower in our meadow at the moment is not one of those I showed yesterday, but Goldenrods. There are obviously several different species, and I've been trying to sort out which they are - without a lot of luck.  I need to be a better botanist.  But here are a few that appear to be different anyway, even if I can't tell you for sure what species they are.

You can see above how yellow the meadow looks at the moment, though there are a few asters and Queen Anne's Lace mixed in.  I use Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers to try and sort these out, and it recommends sorting the goldenrods into 5 growth forms.  I can do that, but getting them to the level of 'species' is a lot more challenging.

This one is the 'plume-like' growth form, and I think it is probably a Canada Goldenrod, one of the most common around here.

This one is clearly 'flat-topped' in growth form, and I think it might be Smooth Goldenrod.

Here's one with thin, wispy flower stems branching out sideways in the 'elm-branched' growth form, but I simply can't match it easily with any of the goldenrods in the book, because it's leaves, which are fairly broad rather than narrow, don't match the illustrations.

This is another I'm having difficulty with, though it's clearly the 'wand-like' growth form.  It has very narrow small leaves though, which again don't match anything in the book.

And this last one I think is Flat-topped Goldenrod - though there's a high likelihood I'm wrong on all counts. Besides the Peterson guide, there's also a specific pamphlet on the 'Asters, Fleabanes and Goldenrods of Grey and Bruce Counties'.  But when I try to match those up, it gets even more confusing.  As least I know I gave it a really good try - exercise for the brain!

Linking to:
Nature Notes


  1. I'd have no idea either. They are gorgeous, though.

  2. Ours look a lot like the ones in the second to the last photo. At least the ones I've noticed. I did notice an upswing in allergy symptoms once they popped open.

  3. I didn't even KNOW there were that many kinds!! Lots of it all around here where I live too.

  4. I also use 'Asters, Fleabanes and Goldenrods of Grey and Bruce Counties' which if the best reference for us but they are not easy to identify. Did you notice that strangely enough one of the Goldenrods makes white aster-like flowers! Just to make sure we really get confused!

  5. I had no idea there were 'varieties' of goldenrod. Great lesson and photos. I will have to observe the ones along the road here in NB more carefully.

  6. Great pictures of the Goldenrods... We definitely have ALOT of them around here. In fact, they will be included on my wildflower post upcoming.

  7. Oh I have tried to sort them out and .... ugggg.... I did find these web sites when I was looking to sort having to do with Ontario which I am close enough to in NY..... Lovely to see you In Nature Notes... Michelle


  8. Aargh! Yes, goldenrods can be quite puzzling. One year I focused hard and identified all I encountered, but now I just nod and say, yes, goldenrod. I use Newcomb's Wildflower Guide when I want to know exactly. It has good clear drawings as well as very helpful descriptions in the text.

  9. I can understand working hard to identify each goldenrod! I've tried to do similar with other wildflowers. I will pay more attention to goldenrod when I see it.

  10. I never knew there were all those types of Goldenrod!!!!

    All I know, is that wild flowers are beeeeeeeeutiful... :-)

    Oh and..... Doesn't Goldenrod, get a "bum rap," being blamed for the Autumn allergies, which Ragweed causes????


  11. You have some I don't know! That's nifty. I may take on a few of the Asters this week.

  12. Every field guide describes species of goldenrod differently and even indicates there are a different number of species, not to mention individual variation between individuals of the same species. Talk about the "confusing fall warblers"!

  13. I like that - 'Confusing fall goldenrods'!