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A Comprehensive Guide to Texas Goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides)

Texas Goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides) is a herbaceous perennial that is native to the mid-western United States and the province of Ontario in Canada. This plant is a host to several moths and is important as a nectar source for bees and other insects. Growing from 1.5 to 3 feet tall, this species grows in open areas such as prairies and savannas. The yellow flowers bloom from July to October and the plant is hardy in zones 4-9.

Taxonomy and Naming of Texas Goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides)

Herbarium specimen of texas goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides).
Herbarium Specimen — Euthamia gymnospermoides Greene collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Taxonomy

Texas Goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides) was originally named and described by Edward Lee Greene, an American botanist in 1902. It still has the same name 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, gymnospermoides, is Latin for the exposed seed of the plant.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name, like the species name, comes from the distribution of the plant. Other common names include Great Plains Goldentop (Wikipedia), viscid goldenrod, viscid grass-leaved goldenrod (Ladd and Thomas 2015), and Great Plains Goldenrod (Minnesota Wildflowers), Plains Grass-leaved Goldenrod (illinoiswildflowers.org), and prairie goldenrod.

Physical Description

Yellow flowers of texas goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides).
Flowers of Texas Goldentop — Euthamia gymnospermoides Greene observed in United States of America by Thomas Koffel (licensed under CC BY 4.0)
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1.5 to 3.5 feet tall
  • Stem: The stems are erect, branching, glabrous and glaucous. The roots are fibrous and spread by rhizomes (Sieren 1981).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, sessile, linear-lanceolate, have entire scabrous margins and are (1) 3-5 nerved (Flora of North America). The leaves are 1.5 to 4.5 inches long and 0.1 to 0.2 inches wide.
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from July to October.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has achenes that mature in the late fall and winter.

Range of Texas Goldentop in the United States and Canada

Range map of texas goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides) 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 mid-western United States and the province of Ontario in Canada. It is considered to be rare in the state of Michigan and the province of Ontario.

Habitat

Prairie habitat in United States.
Prairie Habitat — USFWS Mountain-Prairie, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows open areas such as prairies (Ebinger, et al 2009), wet-mesic sand prairies (Phillippe 2011), dry sand prairie (Phillippe, et al 2004), prairie woodlands (Lathrop 1958), oak savannas (Scott 2008), and roadsides (Sieren 1981).

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 considered to be most similar to the flat-top goldentop (Euthamia graminifolia) (Sieren 1981). Generally they can be told apart by the flat-top goldentop having >20 flowers per head and stem branching in the upper 1/4 of the plant, whereas Texas goldentop has < 20 flowers per head and stem branching about half up the stem (Sieren 1981).

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 not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Texas Goldentop

Plant of texas goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides) with yellow flowers.
Flowers of Texas Goldentop (Euthamia gymnospermoides) — Mason Brock (Masebrock), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hardiness

This species is hardy in zones 4-9. 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 grows in full sun to partial-shade and dry to moist sandy well-drained soil.

References

  • Ebinger, John E., Loy R. Phillippe, William C. Handel, Connie J. Cunningham, William E. McClain, Randy N. Nyboer, and Todd Bittner. 2009. Vascular Plant Communities of the Green River Lowlands in Northwestern Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 39:2.
  • Ladd, Douglas and Justin R. Thomas. 2015. Ecological Checklist of the Missouri flora for Floristic Quality Assessment. Phytoneuron 2015-2: 1-274.
  • Lathrop, Earl W. 1958. The Flora and Ecology of the Chatautauqua Hills in Kansas. The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 39: 97-210.
  • Nesom, Guy. 1999. Review of the Early Nomenclature in Euthamia (Asteraceae: Astereae). Sida 18: 1009-1018.
  • Phillipe, Loy R. 2011. Status of Endangered and threatened sand area species of the Illinois Flora. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin v. 39:4.
  • Phillippe, Loy R., Ann Feist, and John E. Ebinger. 2004. Vascular Flora of Long Branch Nature Preserve, Mason County, Illinois. Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 97: 197-208.
  • Scott, Richard. 2008. Species Spotted on a Tefft Savanna Hike. Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society 15: 11.
  • Sieren, D.J. 1981. The Taxonomy of the Genus Euthamia. Rhodora 83: 551-579.
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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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