A bee visits one of the Solidago canadensis plots in our Native Plant study.

Now that our lab group is working on native plants and native bees, I thought it would be fun to do a ‘Plant of the Week’ and ‘Bee of the Week’ series.  This entry is from Lucas Costner, an undergraduate horticulture major at Oregon State University.  It highlights one of the plants that Aaron Anderson is using in his research.

Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is a perennial forb in the Aster family (Asteraceae), native and extant throughout most of North America, including of course the Pacific Northwest (1, 3). Perhaps due to its extensive range, Canada goldenrod exhibits a great deal regional variation with five varieties of the plant in current recognition (3). In the Northwest, Canada goldenrod typically flowers in late summer (2), bursting with small, star-shaped yellow flowers that are attractive to a variety of insects.

Aaron likes to refer to the species as an insect “truck-stop”, emphasizing both the spectrum of visiting insects as well as the pollen and nectar resources made available to pollinators. In the field, we have observed visits from yellow-faced bumblebees, honey bees, long-horned bees, and syrphid flies (just to name a few). The USDA notes that the plant is visited by at least two beneficial wasp species, as well as many species of native, specialist bees (1).

Generally speaking, Canada goldenrod is a low-maintenance species. Given sufficient sunlight, the plants require little in terms of additional water or fertilizer. It easily forms large colonies, spreading aggressively by both rhizomes and seeds (3). That being said, it might not make the best choice for all gardeners, considering its ability to spread and persist in a site. If space and management are not of concern, however, Canada goldenrod can be used to create impressive drifts of yellow flowers and pairs well with other prairie plants. The brightly colored spikes can also be used to make an interesting cut-flower.

References:

  1. Pavek, P.L.S. 2011. Plant guide for Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. Pullman, W A.
  2. “Solidago canadensis: Canada Goldenrod.” Washington Native Plant Society, 8 Nov. 2007, www.wnps.org/landscaping/herbarium/pages/solidago-canadensis.html. Accessed 16 Aug. 2017.
  3. Coladonato, Milo. 1993. Solidago canadensis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/solcan/all.html [2017, August 16].

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