Solidago canadensis Linnaeus
Canada goldenrod
Family: Asteraceae (formerly Compositae)

secund heads

Solidago candensis is the most common and abundant goldenrod species in Wisconsin. Stems are often 3 to 4 feet tall with a roughly pyrimidal shaped inflorescence at the tip, comprised of numerous small, yellow flower heads. Each head is made up of several small yellow flowers surrounded by a series of overlapping bracts (called phyllaries, the phyllaries collectively known as an involucre). The heads tend to be twisted such that they all or mostly appear to arise from the top side of the lateral branches of the inflorescence, the flower heads therefore said to be "secund".

Leaves are tapering to base and tip with three prominent veins running nearly parallel from near the base. Stems are pubescent below the inflorescence, though some varieties may be glabrous near the base of the stem. Some authors have split what is here called S. canadensis and recognized another species S. altissima, based primarily on length of the involucre and flowers.

This species forms large clones by strongly spreading rhizomes beneath the soil surface and may be extremely abundant in old fields, rights-of-way of roads and other sunny upland sites. When making an identification it is important to remember that the inflorescence shape can be severely modified in any individual stem if the stem tip is damaged during growth, as may be the case if the stem is browsed by an animal or otherwise cut or broken off as the plant is developing. I have known beginners to identify 6 or 7 species where only one was present, based on a too liberal dependence on matching deviant inflorescences to photographs in a wildflower book. It is best to recognize the clonal nature of these plants and to consider the typical inflorescence shape of the population.

known Wisconsin distribution based on vouchers

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