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A Comprehensive Guide to Dixie Goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla)

Dixie Goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla) is a herbaceous perennial that is native in the southeastern United States. 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 open oak and pine woodlands. The yellow flowers bloom from September to November and the plant is hardy in zones 8-9.

Taxonomy and Naming of Dixie Goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla)

Herbarium specimen of dixie goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla).
Herbarium Specimen — Solidago brachyphylla Chapm. ex Torr. & A.Gray collected in United States of America by Botanical Research Institute of Texas (licensed under CC0 1.0).

Taxonomy

Dixie Goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla) was originally named and described by Alvan Chapman, an American botanist, but it is was invalidly published. Later in 1842, the name was validly published by John Torrey and Asa Gray, both American botanists. 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, brachyphylla, is a Latin for “short leaf”.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the native location of the species. Another name for this species is short-leaved goldenrod (Howell 1921).

Physical Description

Plant of Dixie Goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla) in a wooded area.
Dixie Goldenrod — Solidago brachyphylla Chapm. ex Torr. & A.Gray observed in United States of America by Scott Allen Davis (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1.5 ft (0.5 m) to 4 ft (1.3 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect and sparsely to moderately strigose puberulent (Flora of North America).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, with basal and cauline leaves, oblanceolate, spathulate to ovate, and entire or bluntly serrate margins. They are 1.0 in (2.5 cm) to 2.5 in (6.5 cm) long and 0.4 in (1 cm) to 1 in (2.5 cm) wide (Flora of North America). The cauline leaves are subsessile to sessile.
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from September to November.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has achenes that mature in the late fall and winter.

Range of Dixie Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range map of Dixie Goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Dixie Goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla) — 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 to the southeastern United States and considered common throughout.

Habitat

Pine barren habitat in the southeastern United States.
Pine Barren Habitat — National Archives and Records Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows in dry oak woods (Harper 1900), xeric oak woodlands and wooded edges (Coastal Plain Plants), dry open pine barrens (Lowe 1921) and grassy pine barrens (Mohr 1901).

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 specifically 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 species is most similar to the spring-flowering goldenrod (Solidago verna), but differs in that S. verna has 7-12 rays versus the 1-2 rays of this species.

Is this plant invasive?

This species has not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Dixie Goldenrod

Herbarium specimen of dixie goldenrod (Solidago brachyphylla).
Herbarium Specimen — Solidago brachyphylla Chapm. ex Torr. & A.Gray collected in United States of America
by University of South Carolina, A. C. Moore Herbarium Vascular Plant Collection (USCH-) (licensed under CC0 1.0).

Hardiness

This species is hardy in zones 8-9. 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 requires full sun to part-shade and dry to moist well-drained soils.

References

  • Harper, Roland M. 1900. Notes on the Flora of Middle Georgia. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 27: 320-412.
  • Howell, Arthur H. 1921. A biological survey of Alabama. I. Physiography and life zones. II. The mammals. (Washington, DC: Governement Printing Office).
  • Lowe, E.N. 1921. Plants of Mississippi: a list of flowering plants and ferns. (Jackson, MS: Mississippi Geological Survey). Bulletin 17.
  • Mohr, Charles. 1901. Plant Life of Alabama. An account of the distribution, modes of association, and adaptations of the flora of Alabama, together with a systematic catalogue of the plants growing in the state. Prepared in cooperation with the Geological Survey of Alabama. (Washington, DC: USDA) Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium vol. IV.
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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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