Solidago flexicaulis (Zigzag Goldenrod)

Plant Info
Also known as: Broad-leaved Goldenrod
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:August - October
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flowers] Erect to ascending clusters 2 to 6 inches long at the top of the plant and arising from leaf axils in the upper half of the plant. Flowers are yellow, short-stalked, about 3/8-inch across with 3 to 5 petals (ray flowers).

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are up to 3 inches wide and 5 inches long, softly hairy and coarsely toothed with a broad rounded base and pointed tip. The leaf narrows abruptly at the base, leaving “wings” on either side of the leaf stalk. Leaves become smaller as they ascend the stem.

[photo of stem] The stem can zig-zag between the alternately attached leaves, hence the common name, but can also be nearly straight. Stems are ridged, sparsely to moderately hairy especially on the upper stem, and form colonies from short rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

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


Zig-zag Goldenrod is one of the easier Solidago species to ID. The woodland habitat, broad, coarsely toothed leaves and erect clusters make it pretty unique. It does very well in a shade garden, though its spreading nature may take some care to keep in line. Like most goldenrods, it is a pollinator magnet.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Chisago and Ramsey counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: Alison - St. Paul, MN
on: 2010-07-12 15:43:20

Zigzag goldenrod can be found at Lilydale Regional Park in Saint Paul, MN.

Posted by: Bonnie - Cass County
on: 2012-04-07 07:39:28

I have seen this plant growing near Crane and Otter lakes in Itasca county and in Crow Wing and Cass Counties

Posted by: Karen - Ramsey County
on: 2012-05-03 08:56:30

I have in my shade garden. Very prolific at self seeding throughout garden and lawn. Easily pulled out of unwanted areas, but may be a bit aggressive for small manicured shade gardens. Would be great for naturalized areas. Wonderful bit of color in the shade late in the year.

Posted by: Lisa - Bloomington / Hennepin County
on: 2012-09-13 14:35:38

I've got a lot of it growing in an woodsy, overgrown area north of my house right now; I noticed it around the same time the asters began blooming.

Posted by: Gabriel - South Minneapolis
on: 2014-10-28 17:52:47

I planted this species a few years ago in our shady backyard. It grows well under a Siberian elm, in soil that is usually very dry and full of tree roots. It spreads to form a clump and self-seeds. It looks a little weedy, but it reminds me of the pine woods in William O'Brien State Park, where it grows in the needle-strewn ground. It seems to grow taller here (around 4 feet) than it does there, though I could be misremembering it, since I haven't been to William O'Brien in a few years. I'd add to others' recommendations by saying this is not only a good plant to grow in shade, but even in dry shade or among tree roots.

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