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A Comprehensive Guide to Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa)

Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa) is a herbaceous perennial that is native to the eastern United States. This species is a host to the baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and several moths. Growing from 1 foot to 5 feet tall, this species grows in rocky/sandy open areas and woods and in the south with limestone. The yellow flowers bloom from August to October and the plant is hardy in zones 4-8.

Taxonomy and Naming of Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa)

Herbarium specimen of Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa).
Herbarium Specimen of Stout Goldenrod — Solidago squarrosa Muhl. collected in United States of America by Botanical Research Institute of Texas (licensed under CC0 1.0)


Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa) was originally named and described by Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg, an American botanist in 1813. 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, squarrosa, is a Latinized name for square, in reference to the square shaped bracts.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the stout stem of the plant. Some other common names include squarrose goldenrod (Branson, et al 1979) and ragged goldenrod (Moyer 1905).

Physical Description

Plant of stout goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa) in a wooded area.
Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa) — Doppelbrau, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect, and glabrous (lower) and hairy above (Flora of North America).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, with basal and cauline leaves, ovate to oblong, with upper leaves cauline leaves sessile and serrate (lower) and entire (upper) margins. They are 1 in (2.5 cm) to 8 in (20 cm) long and 0.3 in (1 cm) to 4 in (10 cm) wide.
  • 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 Stout Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range map of stout goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa) — Range Map Credit: Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2023. (website 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 eastern United States. It is considered to be rare in the states of Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont.


Field at Cedar Creek Battlefield in Virginia
Field Habitat — Nyttend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows in dry woods, fields, and rocky slopes (Flora of North America), on limestone (Stetson 1913 and Wynne 1944), rocky woods (Nichols 1913), rocky banks (House and Alexander 1927), sandy roadsides and wood edges (Skelton and Skleton 1991), and on sand barrens (Carbyn and Catling 1995).

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

Bumblebee on pink flower.
Pink flower with Bumblebee — Joaquim Alves Gaspar, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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 notes that this species has been used for burns, veneral diseases, and for stomach ailments.

How is this plant distinguished from other Goldenrods?

This goldenrod is similar to the white goldenrod (Solidago bicolor) which has white flowers, however, this goldenrod has yellow flowers. It is also similar to the downy ragged goldenrod (Solidago petiolaris) in that both have recurved involucral bracts. However, the downy ragged goldenrod has rough leaves and this goldenrod has glabrous leaves (Britton and Brown 1913).

Is this plant invasive?

This has not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Stout Goldenrod

Close-up of yellow flowers of stout goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa).
Flowers of Stout Goldenrod (Solidago squarrosa) — Doppelbrau, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


This species is hardy in zones 4-8. 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.


  • Branson, Branley Alan, Donald F. Marker, Jerry M. Baskin, Max E. Medley, Donald L. Batch, Melvin L. Warren, Wayne H. Davis, Wayne C. Houtcooper, Burt L. Monroe, Burt Leavelle, Jr., Loy R. Phillippe, and Paul v. Cupp. 1979. Endangered, Threatened, and Rare Animals and Plants of Kentucky. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science 42(3-4): 77-89.
  • Britton, Nathaniel Lord and Addison Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British possessions: from Newfoundland to the parallel of the southern boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the 102d meridian. (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons).
  • Carbyn, Susan and Paul M. Catling. 1995. Vascular flora of sand barrens in the middle Ottawa Valley. The Canadian field-naturalist 109: 242-250.
  • House, Homer D. and William Alexander. 1927. Flora of the Allegany State Park Region. (Albany: University of the State of New York).
  • Moyer, I.S. 1905. Flora and Fauna of Bucks County. (New York: Lewis).
  • Nichols, George E. 1913. The Vegetation of Connecticut I. Phytogeographical Aspects. Torreya 13: 89-112.
  • Skleton, Eleanor G. and Emerson W. Skelton. 1991. Haliburton Flora: an annotated list of the vascular plants of the County of Haliburton, Ontario. (Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum).
  • Stetson, Sereno. 1913. The Flora of Copake Falls, NY. Torreya 13(6): 121-133.
  • Wynne, Frances. 1944. Proceedings of the Club. Torreya 45: 60-61.
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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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