Keystone Value: The genus Solidago (Goldenrod) supports over 120 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars, providing food for a variety of birds and mammals.
Sweet Goldenrod’s name comes from its mild anise-scented leaves. Its swooping, golden flowers are showy and very attractive to pollinators, in particular many species of native bees. It provides valuable late-season food to wildlife, as it blooms from August on through into fall, and songbirds even eat the seeds. Goldenrod can be used in a perennial border, cottage garden, or butterfly garden. They are known to be deer, drought, and clay tolerant. Goldenrod tends to get blamed for fall allergies, but allergies are mainly caused by a similar looking plant – ragweed.
There’s some fun history about this plant that dates back to the early days of the United States. The story goes, that after the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the colonists’ only alternative tea was to make one from the leaves of Solidago odora. They branded it “liberty tea”, and began marketing it and shipping it as far away as China. This is a plant that has a wide range of practical and medicinal uses, and is a great addition to any garden.