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A Comprehensive Guide to Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) is a herbaceous perennial that is native to south-central and the eastern United States and Canada. This species is a host to the baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and several moths. Growing from 1 foot to 4 feet tall, this species grows in wooded areas that are shaded. The yellow flowers bloom from August to October and the plant is hardy in zones 4-8.

Taxonomy and Naming of Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

Herbarium specimen of wreath goldenrod (Solidago caesia).
Herbarium Specimen — Solidago caesia L. collected in United States of America by The New York Botanical Garden (licensed under CC BY 4.0)

Taxonomy

Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) was originally named and described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. It has kept this same name since and is a member of the Aster Family (Asteraceae).

Varieties

  • Solidago caesia var. caesia: has stems that strongly arch
  • Solidago caesia var. zedia: has stems that weakly arch, occurs in wet lowlands

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, caesia, is a Latin word for bluish-grey, presumably for the color of the stems.

Common Name and Alternative Names

The common name comes from the wreathed appearance of the flowers on the stem (Glattstein 1991). Other common names include blue-stem goldenrod, axillary goldenrod, bluish goldenrod (Latham and Rhoads 2006), and woodland goldenrod. In Canada it can be called Verge d’or bleuatre (Gillett 1991).

Physical Description

Yellow flowers of wreath goldenrod (Solidago caesia) in a wooded area.
Flowers of Wreath Goldenrod — “Solidago caesia” by cwarneke is marked with CC0 1.0.
  • Plant Type: This plant is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Height: 1 ft (0.2 m) to 4 ft (1.1 m)
  • Stem: The stems are erect and hirsute-pubescent
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate, basal (wither with age) and cauline, lanceolate to elliptic to oblong, and have serrate margins. They are 1 in (2.5 cm) to 4 in (10 cm) long and 0.1 in (0.3 cm) to 1.2 in (3 cm) wide (Flora of North America).
  • 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 Wreath Goldenrod in the United States and Canada

Range map of wreath goldenrod (Solidago caesia var. caesia) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia var. caesia) — 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)]
Range map of wreath goldenrod (Solidago caesia var. zedia) in the United States and Canada.
Range Map of Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia var. zedia) — 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 to the south-central and eastern United States and Canada. It is considered to be rare in the states of Iowa and Wisconsin and the province of New Brunswick in Canada.

Habitat

Mesic hardwood forest habitat in Delaware.
Mesic Forest Habitat — Robert Coxe, Image

This species grows in shaded wooded areas (Flora of North America), lowland woods (Laureto 1998), dry-mesic upland (Philippe, et al 2003) to mesic woods (Woods, et al 2001), and thickets (Peck 1902). For var. zedia: occurs in wet lowlands of the southeastern United States.

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 wavy-lined emerald (Synchlora aerata). The genus in general is a host to the Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) and black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes). This species also hosts leaf beetles (Futuyma 1990) and Andrena bees.

Other Supported Wildlife

Bumblebee on pink flower.
Bumblebee on Flower — Weerlicht, CC0, 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 does not describe this species specifically, but the genus in general has been used as a nasal and stomach remedy.

How is this plant distinguished from other Goldenrods?

This goldenrod is similar to Curtis’ goldenrod (Solidago curtisii), but differs in that Curtis’ goldenrod has a square stem and a pubescent stem, while this species has a round shaped stem (Taylor and Taylor 1983). The stem of the wreath goldenrod is also glaucous (Weakley, et al 2022). The zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis), but it has leaves that are twice as wide (6-7 cm) versus < 3 cm (Gillett 1991).

Is this plant invasive?

This has not been noted as being weedy.

Gardening with Wreath Goldenrod

Plant of wreath goldenrod (Solidago caesia) with yellow flowers in a wooded area.
Plant of Wreath Goldenrod — “Solidago caesia” by kpmcfarland is marked with CC0 1.0.

Hardiness

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 can grow in full sun to shade in dry to medium well-drained soils. This plant is easily propagated by division (Glattstein 1991).

References

  • Gillet, John. 1991. Goldenrods. Trail & Landscape 25(4): 114-121.
  • Glattstein, Judy. 1991. The Daisies of Autumn. Arnoldia 51(2): 23-31.
  • Latham, Roger and Ann Rhoads. 2006. The Historical Flora of Wykers Island in the Delaware River, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, from the 1884 to 1887 Botanical Notes of John and Harvey Ruth. Bartonia 63: 29-47.
  • Laureto, Pamela J. 1998. Vascular Flora and and Plant Community Types of Seidman Park, Kent County, Michigan. Michigan Botanist 37: 67-90.
  • Peck, Charles H. 1902. Report of the State Botanist 1902. Bulletin 67 of the New York State Museum.
  • Phillippe, Loy R., William C. Handel, Shannon L. Horn, Fran M. Harty, and John E. Ebinger. 2003. Vascular Flora of Momence Wetlands, Kankakee County, Illinois. Journal of the Illinois Academy of Science 96: 271-294.
  • Taylor, Constance E. and R. John Taylor. 1983. New Species, New Combinations and Notes on the Goldenrods (Euthamia and Solidago – Asteraceae). Sida 10(2): 176-183.
  • Weakley, A.S., and Southeastern Flora Team. 2022. Flora of the Southeastern United States. University of North Carolina Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden.
  • Woods, Michael, Brian Prazinko, and Alvin R. Diamond, Jr. 2001. The Vascular Flora of Dale County Lake, Alabama. Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science 72(1): 65-82.
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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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