Spare the (golden)rod

Spare the (golden)rod

While most plants respond to the shorter days of late summer by starting to wind down their business for the season, goldenrod is a “short-day” plant, the kind that is stimulated to bloom by dwindling daylight. It’s a perennial in the aster family, and is widespread across North America. Continent-wide, we have something on the order of 130 species of goldenrod in the genus Solidago. As one of the most abundant blooms of late summer and autumn, this native wildflower is for many pollinators, including numerous bee species, a vital source of nectar as well as of nutritious pollen. Unfortunately, this latter item has given goldenrod a black eye among many allergy sufferers. INNOCENT OF ALL CHARGES Goldenrod’s showy yellow flowers are in full view along roadsides and in meadows and pastures just about the same time that one of the more intense waves of seasonal hay fever kicks in. So it’s understandable that goldenrod has been blamed for the red itchy eyes, sinus congestion, sneezing, and general histamine-soaked misery that some folks experience this time of year. But it turns out that goldenrod pollen is innocent of all charges. Goldenrod can’t be guilty because its pollen is quite […]

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