Skip to content

A Comprehensive Guide to White-Hair Goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa)

White-Hair Goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) is a herbaceous perennial that is native and rare in the state of Kentucky. This species is a host to the baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and several moths. Growing from 1 foot to 3 feet tall, this species grows in sandstone crevices. The yellow flowers bloom from July to October and the plant is hardy in zones 6-7.

Taxonomy and Naming of White-Hair Goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa)

Herbarium specimen of white-haired goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa).
Herbarium Specimen White-Hair Goldenrod — Solidago albopilosa E.L.Braun collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Taxonomy

White-Hair Goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) was originally named and described by E. Lucy Braun in 1942. 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, albopilosa, is a Latin for white-hair.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from white-haired pubescence.

Physical Description

Yellow flowers of white-haired goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) in a rocky area.
Flowers of White-Hair Goldenrod — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1 ft (0.3 m) to 3 ft (1 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect, and pubsecent with white hairs (Flora of North America). The stem is slightly zigzag (Braun 1942).
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, with cauline leaves, ovate, elliptic to spathulate, and entire to slightly serrate margins. They are 3 in (7.6 cm) to 3.5 in (8.9 cm) long and 1.5 in (3.8 cm) to 2.0 in (5 cm) wide.
  • Flower color: yellow
  • Blooming period: This plant blooms from September to November.
  • Fruiting type and period: This plant has achenes that mature in the late fall and winter.

Range of White-Hair Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range map of white-haired goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of White-Hair Goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) — 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 and rare in the state of Kentucky. It is listed as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Habitat

Sandstone outcrop in Ohio.
Sandstone Outcrop Habitat — James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This species grows in sandstone outcrops where there is shading (Flora of North America and Braun 1942).

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, especially Andrena 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 show 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 goldenrod is similar to the large-leaf goldenrod (Solidago macrophylla), which has glabrous stems. This goldenrod has densely pubescent stems. It is also similar to the zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) with a slightly zigzag stem, but zigzag goldenrod has thicker leaves (Robinson 1980).

Is this plant invasive?

This species is Federally threatened, has a restricted habitat, and is not invasive.

Gardening with White-Hair Goldenrod

Plant of white-hair goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) in sandstone.
White-Hair Goldenrod — Barnes, Dr. Thomas G., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hardiness

This species is hardy in zones 6-7. 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 is federally threatened and is not likely in the horticultural trade.

References

  • Braun, E.L. 1942. A new species and a new variety of Solidago from Kentucky. Rhodora 44: 1-4.
  • Robinson, Andrew F. 1980. Endangered and threatened species of the Southeastern United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. (Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service).
Share this post on social!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

12 − 1 =

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.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.