Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Goldenrod

Late summer and fall are the flowering season of most goldenrods, and as a result they get a bad rap.  And since this happens virtually every year, let TPP explain.  This is also hay fever season and many people suffer from a pollen allergy, but let TPP assure you that goldenrod is not at fault.  Here's the general rule, if you see the flowers, that is, if they form a visual display, they are not wind pollinated, they are animal pollinated.  It's just that goldenrod happens to flower at about the same time as ragweed, whose flowers you never have noticed, but because it is wind pollinated it makes copious amounts of pollen.  TPP is not actually allergic, but his nose can tell when there is a lot of pollen in the air.  Most goldenrods have yellow-gold colored flowers that are rather small but clustered together to make a bigger display.  Goldenrods are in the Aster/daisy family (old name -Compositae; correct name - Asteraceae) and like daisies or sunflowers their heads of small flowers mimic large flowers by arranging ray flowers around the margin like petals, and using disk flowers to make the central button.  Goldenrods mostly just have small clusters, heads, of disk flowers, and this particular species, probably Solidago juncea, early goldenrod, has ray flowers too, looking like petals, and the insects really do love these flowers as the bee attests.

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