Soldiago ulmifolia is roughly similar to the very common
Solidago canadensis in size and general shape and in the
inflorescence with flowers "secund" (all appearing to
arise from the same side of the branch). However, it may be readily
distinguished in several ways. The leaves of S. ulmifolia
are pinnately veined, therefore not "triple-nerved"
and the lower leaves are clearly
stalked and quite different in shape from the upper leaves. S.
canadensis leaves are triple-nerved, the leaves are basically
the same shape throughout and none are stalked. While the inflorescence
of S. ulmifolia may be described as somewhat pyrimidal
in general shape, there tend to be fewer, more widely spread branches
than in the more dense and regularly pyrimidal inflorescences
of S. canadensis. Also S. canadensis tends to be
strongly clonal and to occur mostly in sunny sites and S. ulmifolia
does not appear to form dense clones and it is most often found
in forests, or at least somewhat shaded sites.
Most reported sites for Solidago ulmifolia in Wisconsin
are in the southern three or four tiers of counties. In Brown
County it appears to be strongly associated with areas where the
soil is relatively shallow over limestone. It does very well on
such sites, but is essentially absent elsewhere in the county.