Fall allergies got you sneezing and wheezing lately? Don’t blame beautiful goldenrod! Goldenrod plants may look like an easy target for allergy sufferers’ ire, but because they rely on animal pollinators to spread and reproduce, their pollen mainly stays put in the flower, where it awaits for a visiting bee or other insect to stick onto.
So what is making you ah-choo? A likely culprit to look to would be ragweed. Ragweed blooms at the same time as goldenrod, but because its flowers are green and non-descript, it pretty much goes unnoticed in the landscape. Ragweed relies on the wind to distribute its pollen; that’s why the flowers are inconspicuous in appearance- it does not need to be attractive to pollinating passers-by. And all that pollen floating around in the air can really make you feel miserable this time of year.
ragweed flowers are inconspicuous and green
There are a variety of species of goldenrods in our area, and most prefer to grow in open meadows or on the edges of forests. Some, like showy goldenrod, are state endangered. Others, such as Canada goldenrod, are so common that you can pretty much spot some in any direction as soon as you set foot outdoors. There are even some goldenrods, such as bluestem, zig-zag, and silver-rod, that have adapted to living under the forest’s canopy.
Goldenrod just prior to blooming
Ragweed comes in two varieties, common and giant (sometimes called ‘great’). Both are native species that grow in meadows and disturbed areas. The main difference is identifying the two species is height. True to its name, giant ragweed is a botanical gargantuan, reaching to as high as fifteen feet!
While they may seem “weedy,” both ragweed and goldenrod plants are native species that will readily volunteer to grow in your yard! While allergy sufferers may elect (understandably) to remove ragweed growing on their property, I’d encourage you all to let your goldenrod grow! The plants truly are beautiful, require zero watering, fertilizing, or other maintenance, and are a welcome burst of vibrant autumn color when most annuals are beginning to fade away. Look closely and you’ll see that your goldenrod flowers are covered in pollinating insects of all kinds, which means that they are an important late-season source of energy for friends like bees.
Goldenrods make a lovely addition to a native plant garden
Have a happy autumn!