Flower of the Day: Early Goldenrod

Solidago juncea; Asteraceae (aster family)

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Look up goldenrod in any plant guide and you’ll be amazed at how many species there are – and how different some of them are from each other. Clemants and Gracie describe 22; Newcomb lists 30, in the back of his Wildflower Guide after “Parts Indistinguishable”; and Peterson has 29.  The USDA plants database shows 77, all native.

Of these, as many as 32 might be found along the Potomac on the Maryland side (depends which authority you consult).  So it’s with some trepidation that I start posting about them.  After three years of doing this, I still consider myself a novice, prone to errors.

This species is the first one I saw this year, on July 14, on my favorite rock bluff upstream of Carderock.  Here it is in bud, looking a little like a bird-of-paradise.20140725-DSC_0197

And here it is a little further developed, buds not quite open. 20140725-DSC_0222

That particular area, by the way, has the highest diversity of plant life of any area I’ve found.  It’s a rock outcrop that’s about 30 feet high by maybe 100 feet long.  From base to top the soils and sun exposure are different.  I’ve found several dozen different species there this year.

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