By Amanda Bennett
As you are driving around in the county, you might notice a tall weed with beautiful yellow flowers gracing the highways and fence rows. That “weed” is commonly referred to as Goldenrod (Solidago spp.). Goldenrod is a perennial herb that was once used medicinally as treatment for everything from tuberculosis and diabetes to asthma and arthritis.
Goldenrod often gets blamed for the fall resurgence of seasonal allergies. In fact, it is ragweed that is pollinating now that is most likely the culprit for your sneezing and wheezing. And really, it comes down to pollination. Ragweed is wind pollinated meaning each plant produces hundreds of thousands of small, lightweight pollen granules that are transported by the wind to neighboring plants in order to ensure survival of its species. On the other hand, Goldenrod pollen granules are heavy and quite sticky, which make them ideal for pollination by insects. So, unless you gather a handful of Goldenrod flowers to your nose and sniff, it is not likely the granules will be able to irritate your nose. They are simple too heavy to get into your nose under normal circumstances.
In fact, Goldenrod is a very important source of pollen and nectar for honeybees during the fall months when little else is blooming. Beekeepers hope and pray for a relief of the hot summer weather coupled with a good dose of rain to have a plentiful Goldenrod bloom. Often, a second crop of honey can often be collected from hives if Goldenrod has a good bloom period.
Although Goldenrod is an ideal fall plant for pollinator survival, I would caution you against planting them in your front flowerbed as they tend to be prolific seeders and can even sprout new plants through their underground stems called rhizomes. Goldenrod is better suited in naturalized gardens with plenty of room to spread.
So, resist the urge to purge the Earth of the beautiful yellow weed. It’s not making you sneeze.
Amanda Bennett is the Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources County Director, Miami County. She can be reached at (937) 440-3944 or [email protected] miami.osu.edu