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A Comprehensive Guide to Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana)

Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana) is a herbaceous perennial that is native to the eastern and south-central United States and the provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia in Canada. This plant is a host to several moths and is important as a nectar source for bees and other insects. Growing from 1 to 3 feet tall, this species grows on the edges of wetlands, woodlands, and roadsides. The yellow flowers bloom from August to December and the plant is hardy in zones 5-10.

Taxonomy and Naming of Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana)

Herbarium specimen of slender goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana).
Herbarium Specimen — Euthamia caroliniana (L.) Greene ex Porter & Britton collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0).

Taxonomy

Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana) was originally named and described by Carl von Linnaeus in 1753 as Erigeron carolinianus. In 1894, Thomas Porter and Nathaniel Britton, changed the genus to Euthamia, using the concept of the genus from Edward Lee Green (Nesom 1999). It has been a succession of names, most of which were regional variants, over time but it retains the name given by Porter and Britton today and is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae).

Meaning of the Scientific and Common Names

Scientific Name

The genus name, Euthamia, is likely a composite name of the Greek words “thamees” crowded and “ia” to place (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). The species name, caroliniana, is a Latinized version of Carolina, denotes the assumed habitat of the species by Linnaeus (Fernald 1944).

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the narrowness of the flower. Other common names include Coastal Plain Goldentop, Carolina Grass-leaved Goldentop, Slender Fragrant Goldentop, Slender Fragrant Golden-rod, and Narrow-leaf Euthamia.

Physical Description

Yellow flowers of slender goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana).
Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana) — Choess, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1 to 3.5 feet tall
  • Stem: The stems are erect and glabrous. The roots are fibrous and spread by rhizomes (Sieren 1981).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, sessile, linear to linear-filiform and have entire margins. They are 1 to 3 inches long and 0.04 to 0.2 inches wide. The leaves are described as being gland-dotted (Flora of North America).
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from August to December.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has achenes that mature in the late fall and winter.

Range of Slender Goldentop in the United States and Canada

Range map of slender goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana) in the United States and Canada.
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 species is native to the eastern and south-central United States, except for New York, Maine, and Delaware. It is also located and considered rare in the provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia in Canada. It is considered to be rare in the states of New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Texas.

Habitat

Pond Edge Habitat from Europe.
Pond edge Habitat — Agnes Monkelbaan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows on the edges of wetlands, shores, sandy coastal prairies (Singhurst, et al 2009), pine flatwoods (Zomlefer, et al 2007 and Ferguson and Wunderlin 2006), sandy fields (Keller and Brown 1905), woodlands, and roadsides.

Hosted Insects

Moths of the Cucullia genus.
Cucullia genus moths — Sir GEORGE F. HAMPSON, Bart., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The members of the goldentop genus (Euthamia) are hosts to many species of moths including Coleophora intermediella, Epiblema desertana, and Cucullia florea.

Other Supported Wildlife

Honeybee on purple flower.
Purple Aster with Honeybee — John Severns (Severnjc), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This species is an important nectar source to other butterflies, skippers, bees, and wasps during fall season when a lot of other plants have finished flowering.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this plant have any ethnobotanical uses?

The Native American Ethobotanical Database does not cite this species specifically, but a related species in the genus, Euthamia graminifolia, has been used for pain and lung issues.

How is this plant distinguished from other Goldentops?

This species is most similar to the common goldentop (Euthamia graminifolia), but the common goldentop has leaves that are wider than 0.1 inches and the leaves are sparsely glandular (Flora of North America).

How are Goldentops distinguished from Goldenrods?

At first glance this species looks similar to a goldenrod and has at times been placed in the goldenrod genus, Solidago (Nesom 1999). However, the goldentops, Euthamia, have flat-tops versus the non flat-topped goldenrods.

Is this plant invasive?

This plant has been noted as a weed in pastures in Connecticut (Graves, et al 1910) and in Alabama (Harper 1906).

Gardening with Slender Goldentop

Plant of slender goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana) with yellow flowers.
Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana) — Douglas Goldman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hardiness

This species is hardy in zones 5-10. 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 can grow in full sun to partial-shade in moist to dry sandy, gravelly (Mohr 1901) well-drained soil.

References

  • Ferguson, Emily and Richard P. Wunderlin. 2006. A Vascular Plant Inventory of Starkey Wilderness Preserve, Pasco County, Florida. Sida 22: 635-659.
  • Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1944. Is Erigeron carolinianus a valid American Species? Rhodora 46: 323-330.
  • Graves, Charles Burr, Edwin Hubert Eames, Charles Humphrey Bissell, Luman Andrews, Edgar Burton Harger, Charles Alfred Weatherby. 1910. Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Connecticut growing without cultivation. (Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey).
  • Harper, Roland M. 1906. A Phytogeographic Sketch of the Altamaha Grit Region of the Coastal Plain of Georgia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 17: 1-414.
  • Keller, Ida A. and Stewardson Brown. 1905. Handbook to the Flora of Philadelphia and Vicinity, containing data relating to the plants within the following radius: eastern Pennsylvania; all of New Jersey except for the northern counties; and New Castle County, Delaware, with keys for the identification of species. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Botanical Club).
  • 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. (Montgomery, AL: Monograph 5 of Geological Survey of Alabama.
  • Nesom, Guy. 1999. Review of the Early Nomenclature in Euthamia (Asteraceae: Astereae). Sida 18: 1009-1018.
  • Sieren, D.J. 1981. The Taxonomy of the Genus Euthamia. Rhodora 83: 551-579.
  • Singhurst, Jason R., David J. Rosen, and Walter C. Holmes. 2009. Two Additions to the Vascular Flora of Texas. Phytologia 91(1): 69-72.
  • Zomlefer, Wendy B., David E. Giannasi, and Walter S. Judd. 2007. A Floristic Survey of National Park Service Area of Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (Including Fort Caroline National Memorial), Duval County, Florida. Journal of the Botanical Research of Texas 1: 1157-1178.
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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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