Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
Showy and colorful, the goldenrod is one of my favorite fall flowers. The annual appearance of the goldenrod’s bright yellow flowers offer proof positive that summer heat and humidity are on borrowed time and that fall will soon arrive. The yellow flowers also mean that blue-winged teal are already on the move and that we’ll soon be sitting in the duck blind. But as much as I love the goldenrods, insects love the plants even more as an endless variety of bees, wasps, butterflies, beetles, and others partake of the rich golden pollen. The goldenrod’s magnetic attraction also extends to nonpollen feeders, such as the huge green darners that patrol and hunt the skies above the larger flowering patches.
Of course, everyone does not share my love of the goldenrod. Hay fever sufferers despise the plant. But the brilliantly colored goldenrod is wrongly accused and often blamed for allergies actually caused by the more drably colored giant ragweed. Goldenrod pollen consists of heavy beads that, when dislodged, fall straight to the ground. In order to successfully pollinate, the goldenrod depends on feeding insects. By contrast, ragweed pollen is moved by the wind. Some of that drifting pollen finds its way into human nostrils, setting off a miserable chain reaction of allergic suffering. Since goldenrod and ragweed flower at the same time, the more visible goldenrod takes the blame for the ragweed’s evil doing. Attached are photo illustrations depicting why I think the goldenrod and its showy yellow cousins are such an interesting and enjoyable part of the early fall season.