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Photo: Dr. Robert Polomski

She deserves yours.

Goldenrod is the Rodney Dangerfield of herbaceous perennials: it gets no respect. When people notice this roadside warrior, they don’t see its brightly colored gold flowers beautifying culverts and road shoulders, but a weedy thug that causes hay fever.  Let me set the record straight: goldenrod does not cause hay fever. The real culprit is the unassuming ragweed that lurks in the shadows of attractive late summer and early fall flowering plants, where it sheds its windborne pollen from boring-looking flowers.

Interestingly, while people mistakenly blame their allergies on goldenrods that beautify our culverts and road shoulders, herbal practitioners, among others, embrace the curative properties of goldenrod as a medicinal plant.

Surely, some goldenrod relatives are best relegated to natural environments where they can grow and spread with neglect. However, there are a few well-behaved species and cultivars that exhibit garden-esque qualities and deserve to be enjoyed in flower borders and meadows. A few choice species for mid-to-late summer and early fall flowers include blue-stem goldenrod (Solidago caesia), the short-statured Fireworks rough-stemmed goldenrod (S. rugosa), and the compact Golden Fleece autumn golden rod (S. sphacelata).

The hybrid goldenrods enjoy more widespread appeal with dense, compact constitution and gobs of golden flowers. A few of my favorites include Crown of Rays, Little Lemon (Dansolitlem), Golden Baby, Golden Thumb, and Peter Pan.

Goldenrods are drought tolerant, deer-resistant, full sun plants. While we admire its gorgeous golden flowers, pollinators and beneficial insect predators and parasites consume its nectar and pollen.

These lovely, stalwart native American perennials have earned my respect.