Some species have feathery, rich sprays of florets atop sturdy stems. The ray flowers are pistillate only, while the disc flowers are perfect, and these small clusters of yellow flowers grow on one side of each stem.
Goldenrod is an erect perennial with simple, alternate, toothed or smooth-margined leaves. An immense group of often rather weedy herbs, it presents no difficulties in growing, and some species threaten to be a nuisance.
If goldenrod was not so plentiful, perhaps we would prize it more. Many species have been moved to the gardens of England and the European continent.
Goldenrod is known to hybridize freely and botanists are not in agreement as to the number of species.
Its dried leaves have been used for a tea-like beverage by the Indians. The scientific name, from the Latin, means "to make whole", and refers to the healing properties which have been attributed to it.
Goldenrod does not cause hay fever. It has been wrongly accused for the pollen problems created by ragweed and the grasses. Goldenrod has brightly colored flowers to attract color-sensitive insects. Its pollen grains are relatively large, heavier than air, because they are designed to be carried off by flies, bees, butterflies, even ants or birds, but not by the wind.
Wind-pollinated plants usually have dull flowers and very light pollen in extreme abundance. Insects take pollen from flower to flower; the wind scatters it over the whole countryside so that much more is needed to insure seed set.