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A Comprehensive Guide to Eared Goldenrod (Solidago auriculata)

Eared Goldenrod (Solidago auriculata) 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 1.25 feet to 5 feet tall, this species grows in rocky mesic and allivial woods. The yellow flowers bloom from August to October and the plant is hardy in zones 8-9.

Taxonomy and Naming of Eared Goldenrod (Solidago auriculata)

Herbarium specimen of eared goldenrod (Solidago auriculata).
Herbarium specimen — Solidago auriculata Shuttlew. ex S.F.Blake collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0).

Taxonomy

Eared Goldenrod (Solidago auriculata) was originally named and described by Robert J. Shuttleworth, an English botanist, in 1884 but it is was invalidly published. Later in 1931, the name was validly published by Sidney Fay Blake, an American botanist. 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, auriculata, is a Latin for ear.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the eared lobes of the clasping leaves. Another common name is clasping goldenrod (MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1995) for the clasping leaves.

Physical Description

Plant of eared goldenrod (Solidago auriculata) in rocks.
Eared goldenrod (Solidago auriculata) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1.25 ft (0.4 m) to 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect to ascending, and velutinous to hirsutulous (Flora of North America).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, with basal and cauline leaves, ovate, and serrate margins. They are 1.0 in (2.0 cm) to 4.75 in (12 cm) long and 0.4 in (1 cm) to 2.75 in (7.0 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 Eared Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range of eared goldenrod (Solidago auriculata) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Eared Goldenrod (Solidago auriculata) — 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 south-central and southeastern United States. It is considered to be rare in the states of Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Habitat

Rocky woods habitat in North Carolina.
Mesic Rocky Woods Habitat — LithiumFlash, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows in rocky wooded slopes, dry-mesic calcareous slopes (Orzell and Bridges 1987), beech-hardwood ravines (MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1998), creek overflow areas (Pelton 2003), rich forest on calcareous soils (Walker 1988), and alluvial woods.

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 distinguished by its clasping leaves (Taylor and Taylor 1984).

Is this plant invasive?

This species has not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Eared Goldenrod

Vegetative plant of eared goldenrod (Solidago auriculata) in a wooded area.
Eared Goldenrod — Solidago auriculata Shuttlew. ex S.F.Blake observed in United States of America by John Kees (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 part-shade to shade and dry to moist well-drained soils.

References

  • MacRoberts, Michael H. and Barbara R. MacRoberts. 1998. Noteworthy vascular plant collections on the Angelina and Sabine National Forests, Texas. Phytologia 84: 1-27.
  • MacRoberts, Michael H. and Barbara R. MacRoberts. 1995. Noteworthy vascular plant collections for the Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana. Phytologia 78: 291-313.
  • Orzell, S.L. and Edwin L. Bridges. 1987. Further Additions and Noteworthy Collections in the Flora of Arkansas USA with Historical Ecological and Phytogeograhical Notes. Phytologia 64: 81-144.
  • Pelton, John. 2003. Some Uncommon Composites. Newsletter of the Arkansas Native Plant Society 23 (1): 5.
  • Taylor, Constance E.S. and Ronald J. Taylor. 1984. Solidago (Asteraceae) in Oklahoma and Texas. Sida 10: 223-251.
  • Walker, Joan. 1988. Lists of Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Sensitive Animal and Plant Species of the Coastal Plain/Piedmont. (Tallahasee, FL: USDA Forest Service).
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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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