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Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula), a Comprehensive Guide in 10 Sections

Introduction

Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula) is a herbaceous perennial that ranges from the mid-western to eastern United States. This plant, along with other goldenrods, is an important nectar source for many insects in the fall, including the Monarch butterfly. It can grow from 2 to 6 feet tall and has alternate, obovate leaves with serrate margins. The golden yellow flowers bloom from August to September and it is hardy in zones 3-8. Seeds of this plant can be purchased in the McMullen House Bed & Breakfast Garden Shop.

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Taxonomy and Naming of Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula)

Herbarium specimen of Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula).
Roundleaf Goldenrod — University of Lethbridge Herbarium (licensed under CCO 1.0)

Taxonomy

Roundleaf goldenrod (Solidago patula) was named by Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg, a botanist from Pennsylvania in 1803. This species has kept the same name since. This plant 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). The name comes from the medicinal uses of the plant. The species name, patula, derives from the Latin for “open or spread out (wordsense.eu).

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name as used in this post apparently refers to the shape of the leaves. Other names such as rough-leaved (or roughleaf) goldenrod are in reference to the texture of the leaf and another, swamp goldenrod, describes the main habitat of the species.

Physical Description of Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula)

Flowers of roundleaf goldenrod (Soliago patula).
Plant of Roundleaf Goldenrod — Solidago patula Muhl.
observed in United States of America by Craig Martin (licensed under CCO 1.0)

Description

  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 2 to 6 feet (0.75 – 1.75 m) tall.
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, simple, serrate, and obovate in shape. The petioles are winged. In size, the leaves are 2 to 12 inches in length and 0.5 to 4 inches in width.
  • Flower Color: The flowers are generally a light golden/yellow color.
  • Blooming period: August to September
  • Fruiting type and period: achene — October to November

Range of Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula) in the United States and Canada

Range map of Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula) in the United States and Canada.

Roundleaf goldenrod grows in the mid-western and eastern United States and Ontario in Canada. It is considered to be rare in the US states of Iowa, Misssissippi, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Vermont.

Habitat

Swamp habitat.
Swamp Habitat — Ina Hensel (telemakro.de), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the alternative names for this plant is swamp goldenrod, which describes one of the main habitats of this species. It is also located in calcareous fens (Motzkin 1994), low pH sand fens (Nekola 1994), and bogs (Orzell and Bridges 1989) and (MacRoberts and MacRoberts 1993). Generally it grows in wet to moist soil where it gets partially shaded conditions.

Hosted Insects

Wavy-lined Emerald on fabric.
Wavy-lined Emerald — CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This goldenrod supports the Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata).

Other Supported Wildlife

Monarch Butterfly on a goldenrod.
Monarch on a goldenrod — ALAN SCHMIERER from southeast AZ, USA, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Most goldenrods are major sources of nectar for a lot of insects in the fall. This goldenrod is no different. Insects that are helped the most include Andrena bees and bumblebees, but butterflies are also frequent visitors including Monarch butterflies. Birds are fond of the fruits and it is deer resistant, most likely because of its succulent nature.

Frequently Asked Questions about Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula)

Is this plant poisonous?

The Celebrity Angels site lists Solidago, or goldenrods in general as being mildly poisonous to pets and the Deerfield Veterinary Clinic lists it as well. The Botanical Online site says that goldenrods are not poisonous, but that they can cause gastronomic distress if eaten.

How has this goldenrod been used?

There is no information on this particular species in the Native American Ethnobotany Database, but goldenrods in general have been used for pain relief and for respiratory ailments. Rubber has been made from the leaves of some goldenrods (coastalplainplants.org).

Does goldenrod cause allergies or hay fever?

Goldenrods in general, which do not cause hayfever, are often confused for ragweed (Ambrosia sp.), which cause the common hayfever. These plants bloom at the same time, which may lead to the confusion.

Is this plant considered to be invasive?

This species can spread readily by rhizomes and form dense patches, but it has a rather limited habitat. However, coastalplainplants.org notes that it is a weed in blueberry plantations.

What other goldenrods are similar?

The southern rough-leaved goldenrod (Solidago salicina) is similar to this species and has at times been treated as a subspecies of S. patula (S. patula ssp. strictula). They differ in that S. salicina has a slender stem and smaller and many more upper stem leaves than S. patula (Semple and Pastolero 2012). Solidago salicina also more linear-lanceolate leaves on the lower stem than S. patula has. Both species have a rough-leaf, hence the similar common name for each of them.

Gardening with Roundleaf Goldenrod (Solidago patula)

Group of round-leaf goldenrod (Solidago patula).
Group of Roundleaf Goldenrod — InAweofGod’sCreation, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hardiness

This goldenrod is hardy in zones 3-8. If you are located within these zones and have wet to moist soil that is around a neutral pH it is likely you can grow this species.

Optimal Conditions

This goldenrod prefers places with partial shade and moist to wet sandy or neutral pH soil.

References

  • MacRoberts, Barbara R. and Michael H. MacRoberts. 1993. Floristic of a bog in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, with comments on noteworthy bog plants in western Louisiana. Phytologia 75: 247-258.
  • Motzkin, Glenn. 1994. Calcareous fens of western New England and adjacent New York state. Rhodora 96: 44-68.
  • Nekola, J.C. 1994. The environment and vascular flora of northeastern Iowa fen communities. Rhodora 96: 121-169.
  • Orzell, Steve L. and Edwin Bridges. 1989. Noteworthy Carex L. (Cyperaceae: Section Stellulatae) Collections from Missouri. Sida 13: 380-383.
  • Semple, John C. and Paul Pastolero. 2012. Neotypification and Solidago salicina (Asteraceae: Astereae) and a multivariate comparison with S. patula. Phytoneuron 2012-55: 1-6.

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