blue-stem goldenrod (Solidago caesia)
Solidago axillaris Pursh
Solidago caesia L. var. axillaris (Pursh) A. Gray
Solidago caesia L. var. caesia
CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.
TAXONOMY: The currently accected scientific name for blue-stem
goldenrod is Solidago caesia L.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: This native perennial wildflower is about 1½–3' tall and either un-
branched or sparingly so. The central stem usually leans over to one side;
it is glabrous and light green while young, but becomes glaucous and blue-
grey or burgundy-grey with age.
Leaves: Along the central stem and any side stems there are alternate
leaves up to 5" long and 1" across; these leaves become gradually smaller
as they ascend upward. They are medium to dark green, lanceolate-oblong,
elliptic, or narrowly ovate in shape, more or less serrated along their mar-
gins, mostly hairless, and sessile. The upper surface of each leaf has a
prominent central vein and faint side veins.
Flowers: At the axils of the middle to upper leaves, there develops small
clusters of flowerheads. Each flowerhead is about 1/8" across or a little
larger; it has 4-5 yellow ray florets and a similar number of golden yellow
disk florets. At the base of the flowerhead, there are small green bracts
(phyllaries) with obtuse tips. Sometimes, the central stem will terminate
in a short narrow inflorescence. This inflorescence consists of flowerheads
that are closely bunched together along with some small leafy bracts.
Fruit/Seeds: Each fertile floret is replaced by a small bullet-shaped achene
that is finely pubescent; at its apex, there is a small tuft of hairs. The achenes
are distributed by the wind.
Roots: The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Occasionally, small
loose colonies of plants will develop from the rhizomes.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Blue-stem goldenrod regenerates itself
by reseeding occassionally through rhizome spread.
HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include upland woodlands, woodland open-
ings, bluffs, upper slopes of ravines, and rocky cliffs in shaded or partially
shaded areas. This species is usually found in higher quality habitats.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Blue-stem goldenrod prefers medium
shade to partial sun, mesic to dry-mesic conditions, and a soil that is
loamy or somewhat rocky. During dry weather, some of the lower leaves
may wither away.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs from late
summer into the fall and lasts about 3-4 weeks.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Blue-stem goldenrod naturally occurs
throughout the easttern United States and Canadian provinces (except
the maritime provinces), and extends west through the Ohio Valley
region and mid-west to the eastern regions of the Great Plains (it has
been recorded as far west as Texas). It does not naturally occur in most
of the Great Plains states and provinces, the far southest or far western
states and provinces.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar and pollen of the flowers can
attract a wide variety of insects, especially short-tongued bees, wasps, and
flies. The caterpillars of many species of moths feed on goldenrods. Blue-
stem goldenrod is one of the host plants of the leaf beetle Microrhopala
xerene and the leafhopper Prescottia lobata. The seeds of goldenrods are
eaten sparingly by the indigo bunting, slate-colored junco, tree sparrow,
and other songbirds. White-tailed deer are especially likely to feed on the
foliage of goldenrods in woodlands.
Crooked Run Valley