Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Solidago
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:sun; dry, sandy soil; fields, prairies, savannas, railroads, edges of woods
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:1 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

[photo of stem] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a dry seed with a tuft of light brown hair to carry it off in the wind.

[close-up of seed] Seeds are about 2 mm long, about .75 mm wide, hairless and very pale with numerous darker brown, shallow grooves.

Notes:

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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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Dakota and Ramsey counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka, Dakota and Ramsey counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Roger - Rice Creek Trail (north of Co.
on: 2009-09-03 15:44:02

Found this plant yesterday but couldn't find it in my "Wildflowrs of Minnesota Field Guide". So, I turned to your website and, of course, there it was. Thanks for the resource.

Posted by: Letecia - Rochester, MN
on: 2010-08-13 13:29:29

I saw these along the edge of a prairie in SW Rochester. They were really beautiful amidst the purple coneflowers and coreopsis. Butterflies galore! Thanks for the reference. You are on my favorites list!

Posted by: Patsy - St. Croix State Park near Hinckley, Minnesota
on: 2010-12-31 15:11:26

They are very colorful and made my day when I found them. They have become more plentiful after a prescribed burn. They have bloomed late summer into autumn. The leaves seem to turn red, when plants age.

Posted by: kevin - bloomington
on: 2011-09-26 15:37:23

These plants are very beatiful and just made my day when I saw them next to my house around bloomington.

Posted by: Mia - Twin Cities
on: 2013-07-08 21:34:11

I decided to grow a native grassland garden plot this year, to attract local birds and insects and to limit the amount of re-gardening I'd have to do every year, and Goldenrod was among my first plants! I had no idea there were so many kinds, but I ended up with Showy Goldenrod. Thanks for the awesome reference site - I use it all the time!

Posted by: PAUL E - Bloomington
on: 2016-09-18 20:58:23

A pollinator favorite!

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