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A Comprehensive Guide to Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora)

Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora) is a herbaceous perennial that is native to the mid-western and eastern United States. This species is a host to the baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and several moths. Growing from 3 foot to 5 feet tall, this species grows in open areas such as dry open woods, pine flatwoods, sand hills, scrubland and roadsides. The yellow flowers bloom from July to October and the plant is hardy in zones 4-9.

Taxonomy and Naming of Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora)

Herbarium specimen of anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora).
Herbarium Specimen of Anise-Scented Goldenrod — Solidago odora Aiton collected in United States of America by Botanical Research Institute of Texas (licensed under CC0 1.0).

Taxonomy

Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora) was originally named and described by William Aiton, a Scottish botanist, in 1789. It has kept this same name since and is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae).

Varieties

  • Solidago odora var. chapmanii: native to Georgia and Florida, has pubescent stems
  • Solidago odora var. odora: native to the south-central and eastern United States, has stem pubescent in lines

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, odora, is Latin for odoriferous.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the scent of the foliage (Glattstein 1991). Another common name is the sweet goldenrod (Glattstein 1991) and fragrant goldenrod (Shapiro and Shapiro 1973). Variety chapmanii has been called Chapman’s goldenrod (Brown, et al 2006).

Physical Description

Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora) in McMullen House Garden.
Flowers of Anise-Scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora) — Robert Coxe, Image
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 3 ft (0.9 m) to 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect and pubescent (Flora of North America). The stem is anise-scented when crushed.
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, with basal (wither with age) and cauline leaves, linear-lanceolate, petioles are winged, and entire margins. They are 1 in (2.5 cm) to 4.5 in (11.4 cm) long and 0.3 in (0.8 cm) to 0.8 in (2 cm) wide. The leaves are covered in pellucid dots (1817).
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from July to October.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has achenes that mature in the late fall and winter.

Range of Anise-Scented Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range map of anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora var. chapmanii) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Anise-Scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora var. chapmanii) — 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)]
Range of anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora var. odora) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Anise-Scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora var. odora) — 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 has two varieties, one of which, Solidago odora var. odora is native to the south-central and eastern United States and another, Solidago odora var. chapmanii that is native to Florida and Georgia. Solidago odora var. odora is considered to be rare in the states of New Hampshire, Ohio, and Vermont.

Habitat

Pine barren habitat in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.
Pine Barren Habitat (Pinus rigida) — Jim Lukach, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows in open areas such as open, dry woods (Zika 1984 and Lelong 1977), damp peaty pine woods (Flora of North America) roadsides (Gulledge and Judd 2002 and Krings and Franklin 2004), pine forests (Semple 2003 and Macroberts, et al 2002), mesic flatwoods (var. chapmanii) (Franck and Wunderlin 2009), scrubland (Wilder and Roche 2009), and fields (Bigelow 1817).

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 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 shows that this species has been used as an anti-diarrheal, coughs, a sedative, and a stimulant. The leaves of the species can be brewed into a tea (Saunders 1900).

How is this plant distinguished from other Goldenrods?

This goldenrod species is distinguished by the single vein in the leaf.

Is this plant invasive?

This has not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Anise-Scented Goldenrod

Plant of Anise-Scented goldenrod (Solidago odora) with yellow flowers.
Anise-Scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora) — Eric Hunt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hardiness

This species is hardy in zones 4-9. 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 enjoys full sun to part-shade in medium to dry well-drained soils.

References

  • Bigelow, Jacob. 1817. American Medical Botany: being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts. (Boston: Cummings and Hilliard).
  • Brown, Larry E., Paul A. Harcombe, Warren W. Pruess, Sandra Elsik, Barbara R. Macroberts, Michael H. Macroberts, and Stanley D. Jones. 2006. Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Flora of The Lance Rosier Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve, Hardin County, Texas. Sida 22: 1175-1189.
  • Franck, Alan R. and Richard P. Wunderlin. 2009. Vascular Flora of Churchill Ranch, Sarasota County, Florida. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 3: 339-348.
  • Glattstein, Judy. 1991. The Daisies of Autumn. Arnoldia 51(2): 23-31.
  • Gulledge, Kimberely J. and Walter S. Judd. 2002. A floristic inventory of Manatee Springs State Park, Levy County, Florida. Rhodora 104: 42-76.
  • Krings, Alexander and Carlyle Franklin. 2004. An Annotated, Preliminary Checklist of the Vascular Flora of Camp Butner, North Carolina. Sida 21: 1131-1139.
  • Lelong, Michel G. 1977. Annotated List of Vascular Plants in Mobile-Alabama Sida 7: 118-146.
  • Macroberts, Barbara R., Michael H. Macroberts, and Larry E. Brown. 2002. Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Flora of the Hickory Creek Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve, Tyler County, Texas. Sida 20: 781-795.
  • Saunders, Charles Francis. 1900. The Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Proceedings of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 52: 544-549.
  • Semple, John C. 2003. New Names and Combinations in Goldenrods, Solidago (Asteraceae: Astereae). Sida 20: 1605-1616.
  • Shapiro, Arthur M. and Adrienne R. Shapiro. 1973. The ecological associations of the butterflies of Staten Island. Journal of the Research of the Lepidoptera 12(2): 65-126.
  • Wilder, George J. and B.J. Roche. 2009. A Floristic Inventory of Marco Island (Collier County), Florida. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 3: 873-899.
  • Zika, Peter F. 1984. The Re-Discovery of Solidago odora Ait (Asteraceae) in Vermont. Rhodora 86: 539-539.
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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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