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

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

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.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Out Back Nursery
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!

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.

Posted by: cheryl b - Elm Creek Park Reserve
on: 2018-04-09 01:13:36

I found this last fall in Elm Creek Park Reserve. Not many.

Posted by: Jacque B - South Minneapolis
on: 2019-09-07 18:26:13

Found a few of these scattered throughout my woodland backyard. Now that I've identified it I'm hoping it spreads a bit.

Posted by: Sue Jansen - Rochester
on: 2020-08-18 13:27:55

I have this growing in amongst a tangle of wild raspberries-the latter I am trying to eradicate-the zigzag trying to nurture/propigate. It has not been weedy, but I do strip off many of the hard yellow fruits/"berries" to seed elsewhere/use for art. I find it to be beautiful in bloom, rather intriguing "funky"as it fruits. I am an MG, and know it is considered invasive, so do watch it, but have not noticed spreading-certainly not like Shifts-the pollinators love it.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-08-18 16:03:21

Sue, the term "invasive" is generally reserved for non-native species that can readily escape cultivation and displace natives in the wild, sometimes forming monocultures. In a garden setting, many natives can be rather aggressive since the natural ecosystem that keeps them in check doesn't really exist in cultivation. I have zig-zag goldenrod in my own garden, which is densely covered with many other natives. The goldenrod does spread, but in 10 years has not done so to the detriment of other species.

Posted by: luciearl - lake shore
on: 2020-09-09 10:22:57

Grow near the edge of a dirt road. Multiple types of goldenrod in the area, but was able to identify this one.

Posted by: Sherman - Duluth
on: 2021-09-11 17:49:32

I've seen quite a number of these plants in my woods and around the yard for 30 years or more. There are also some growing in the shade on the north side of my house by the front steps. I always wondered what they were. Because of the large wide leaves, I never suspected that they were a type of goldenrod. It always bugged me that these usually only have one or two or occasionally three petals on the flowers.

Posted by: Bruce Atkinson - Olmsted County
on: 2023-08-28 09:29:36

First year growing this. Seems to be infested by 1/2" long yellow insects. Do I need to worry or treat?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-08-28 09:36:20

Bruce, those are probably soldier beetles. It's pollinators doing their thing so be happy!

Posted by: A Lamb - Longville/Cass County
on: 2023-09-09 22:01:10

I noticed these growing along the edge of the woods on our newly acquired property on Blackwater Lake near Longville in Cass County. So glad to know what they are! They're a charming little plant and I was unfamiliar with it. As noted above, I would not have suspected goldenrod due to the leaves and their short statue. Ours all have 3 petals and that funky "Sputnik" ball of stamens in the center. The underside of the large toothed leaves are very soft and hairy.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the spammers out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.