Flowers of the Day: Two More Goldenrods

elm-leaved goldenrod; Solidago ulmifolia; Asteraceae (aster family)




wandlike goldenrod; Solidago stricta

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Annoyed with myself for not always getting the information I need to properly identify species – especially Solidago species –  I hiked one morning with my books tucked into my pack, with a little notebook, too.  When I got to the cliffs upstream of Carderock, I set everything out on a boulder and started taking notes.  In order to identify goldenrods, you need to consider the following:

  • stem: green, brown, purplish? smooth or rough? densely hairy, minutely hairy, covered with white bloom? hairy on one end but not the other? angled?
  • leaves: uniform size along the stem or getting smaller as they ascend? entire, serrate, doubly serrate?  lower ones serrate, upper ones entire?  sessile or with petioles?  tapering or blunt at the base and/or tip?  hairy on top?  hairy underneath? hairy only along the veins underneath?  feather veined or nerved? if nerved, one or three? thin or coarse? lanceolate, linear, elliptical, ovate?
  • inflorescence: plumelike, wandlike, elm-branched, clublike, flat-topped? terminal or axillary?
  • flowers: how many rays? size? bracts spreading?
  • habitat: swamp or bog? dry woods? field or roadside? thickets? dry sandy soils?

After all this, I’m still not sure the first one pictured above is correctly identified. And I’m still not sure which one this is:


At least I had fun taking pictures.