A Pot of Gold

| 8/25/2008 5:25:27 PM

Tags: flowers, goldenrod,

GoldenrodOn my kitchen table sits a glorious pot of gold. No – I wasn’t visited by leprechauns during the night, leaving me a treasure of untold wealth; I haven’t become instantly rich, and I would never find a merchant or bank to accept the gold as legal tender. The “pot” is a vase and the gold it contains is a treasure of another kind. It’s goldenrod – one of nature’s treasures.

“Cindy? Goldenrod inside the house?! Has all that allergy medication that you take for your hay-fever gone straight to your head, and left you delirious?” Thanks anyway, but save your tissues.

Edwin Rollin Spencer, in 1940, says of goldenrod in his book Just Weeds, “The goldenrods are truly weeds of the wayside, with emphasis on the ‘weeds.’ Aside from the beauty of some of the species, which has caused them to be adopted as State flowers in several States, the goldenrods have not a single commendable character, and they do have at least one very undesirable weedy trait. They are among the generators of hay fever. The ‘wondrous days of green and gold’ become horrible days for some people when the goldenrods come on the scene.”

Sure, goldenrod produces heavy pollen – just look at all the bees and butterflies that visit when it’s in bloom. And I suppose if you stuck your nose into the flower, it’d make you sneeze – just as you would if you got a noseful of pollen from any other flower. But the idea the goldenrod is the cause of hay-fever is an age-old misconception, and one that persists today as it did when Mr. Spencer wrote his book. Although the myth that goldenrod is the cause of hay-fever has been debunked, goldenrod is still often the scapegoat when the real culprit for those itchy, watery eyes, sneezes, and eye-closing sinus headaches is ragweed. (Achoo! Now you can pass the tissues, please!)

Goldenrod’s pollen is not air-borne; the pollen is sticky, and the plant is pollinated by insects. On the other hand, ragweed, (achoo!), which flowers at the same time as goldenrod, has wind-blown pollen.

Driveway Garden

Michelle House
9/6/2008 6:56:11 PM

Very nice article. But Goldenrod still makes me sneeze.LOL

Cindy Murphy
8/26/2008 7:02:49 PM

I bet those pictures are beautiful, Lori! (wishing I could figure out the settings on my camera...hhmmm...maybe if I actually read the manual.) I love to watch the butterflies. There are so many in my yard this year; all the stalwarts are there - the monarchs, tiger swallowtails and viceroys, and those I'm familar with, but don't know their names. And the hummingbird moths -they are so fun to see! There are also some I've never seen before - tiny, lavender-colored ones that flock around the Jupiter's Beard constantly. The goldenrod in my garden, (in the second photo), bloomed early this year and I couldn't bear to cut it because there were so many butterflies and bees visiting. The goldenrod and other flowers, (except the hydrangeas), in the vase I cut from the Children's Labyrinth at work; the goldenrod was just beginning to open so the insects weren't visiting yet.

8/25/2008 8:21:26 PM

Cindy, We have goldenrod growing all along the sides of the road here. I love it because the butterflies flock to it, and then I in turn chase the butterflies with my camera. The yellow color looks beautiful in photos with the butterflies,(especially monarchs)sitting on it.

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