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A Comprehensive Guide to Alabama Goldenrod (Solidago arenicola)

Alabama Goldenrod (Solidago arenicola) is a herbaceous perennial that is native in the states of Alabama and Tennessee. This species is a host to the baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and several moths. Growing from 1.5 feet to 4 feet tall, this species grows in mesic woods. The yellow flowers bloom from August to October and the plant is hardy in zones 7-8.

Taxonomy and Naming of Alabama Goldenrod (Solidago arenicola)

Herbarium specimen of alabama goldenrod (Solidago arenicola).
Herbarium Specimen — Solidago arenicola B.R.Keener & Kral collected in United States of America by Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre (licensed under CC0 1.0)

Taxonomy

Alabama Goldenrod (Solidago arenicola) was originally named and described by Brian Keener and Robert Kral, both American botanists in 2003. It has kept this same name since and is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae).

Meaning of the Scientific and Common Names

Scientific Name

The genus name, Solidago, derives from the Latin words, Solidus and ago, which together mean to make (ago) whole (Solidus). This meaning comes from the medicinal uses of the plant. The species name, arenicola, is a Latin for sand (areni) and inhabitant (cola).

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the native location of the species.

Physical Description

Plant of Alabama goldenrod (Solidago arenicola) with yellow flowers.
Alabama Goldenrod — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 4 ft (1.2 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect, and glabrous to sparsely pubsecent (Flora of North America). The plant is rhizomatous (Keener and Kral 2002).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, with basal and cauline leaves, spathulate to oblanceolate, and serrate margins. They are 4 in (10 cm) to 6 in (15 cm) long and 0.6 in (1.5 cm) to 1.25 in (3.2 cm) wide (Flora of North America)
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from August to October.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has achenes that mature in the late fall and winter.

Range of Alabama Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range map of Alabama goldenrod (Solidago arenicola) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Alabama Goldenrod — Range Map Credit: Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2023. (website https://bonap.org/). Chapel Hill, N.C. [maps generated from Kartesz, J.T. 2023. Floristic Synthesis of North America, Version 1.0. Biota of North America Program (BONAP). (in press)]

This goldenrod species is native and rare in the states of Alabama and Tennessee.

Habitat

Sandy Woodland Habitat in Delaware.
Sandy Wooded Habitat — Robert Coxe, Image

This species grows in sandy mesic woods (Flora of North America), rivershores (Floden 2012).

Hosted Insects

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly on vegetation.
Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) — D. Gordon E. Robertson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This goldenrod, like a lot of other goldenrods, is a host to the wavy-lined emerald (Synchlora aerata). The genus in general is a host to the Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

Other Supported Wildlife

Blazing star (Liatris spicata) with bumblebee in McMullen House garden.
Bumblebee on Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) — Robert Coxe, Image

This species is a nectar source to other butterflies, skippers, bees, and wasps during the growing season. It is especially important since it provides a nectar source in the late season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this plant have any ethnobotanical uses?

The Native American Ethobotanical Database does not show this species, but Solidago in general has been used for colds, pain, heart medicine, and for stomach ailments.

How is this plant distinguished from other Goldenrods?

This goldenrod is considered to be most similar to the slender goldenrod (Solidago erecta), but differs from it in that the slender goldenrod has > 40 flower heads per stem and the Alabama goldenrod has < 30 heads per stem (Keener and Kral 2002).

Is this plant invasive?

This species has not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Alabama Goldenrod

Yellow flower of Alabama goldenrod (Solidago arenicola) on black background.
Flower of Alabama Goldenrod — Solidago arenicola B.R.Keener & Kral observed in United States of America by Brian Finzel (licensed under CC BY SA 4.0)

Hardiness

This species is hardy in zones 7-8. If your garden is within these zones and you have the right growing conditions (soil, moisture and exposure), you may well be able to grow this plant. However, if planted outside of its range, the hosted species may not recognize the plant or be harmed by ingesting a different species with an unfamiliar chemical composition.

Optimal Conditions

This species requires full sun and dry to occassional wet well-drained soils.

References

  • Floden, Aaron. 2012. Notes on Two Rare Solidago (Asteraceae) in Tennessee: S. arenicola and S. simplex. Phytoneuron 2012-63: 1-4.
  • Keener, Brian R. and Robert Kral. 2002. A New Species of Solidago (Asteraceae: Astereae) from North Central Alabama. Sida 20(4): 1589-1593.
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Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe

Robert Coxe is a professional ecologist and botanist who has worked as the State Ecologist of Delaware and as an ecologist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. He is also a former Past-President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. He currently is an innkeeper at McMullen House Bed & Breakfast LLC and a web designer and owner for Silphium Design LLC.

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