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Tall Goldenrod, Late Goldenrod, Canada Goldenrod - Solidago altissima


Family: Asteraceae - Aster family Genus Common Name: Goldenrod Native Status: Native
Solidago altissima - Tall Goldenrod, Late Goldenrod, Canada Goldenrod. Goldenrods are notoriously difficult to identify to a particular species, so make sure you don't rely on a single source for your identification information. This could easily have been listed as Solidago canadensis rather than Solidago altissima because not only is it a fairly close match for either, but S. altissima is listed as a variety of S. canadensis by some authorities. However, the USDA Plants Database lists S. altissima as a separate species, and the University of Tennessee Fungus Herbarium has a reference to a fungus found on S. altissima in Cade’s Cove in 1939. The Audubon eastern wildflowers book also treats it as a separate species, and lists it as blooming into November. Since the UT Herbarium only lists var glabra in S. canadensis in Tennessee (including Sevier County, where these specimens were photographed), and I have chosen to treat it as a separate species, I have listed this as S. altissima. More details on the identifying characteristics along with the accompanying photographs.

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Solidago altissima

Distribution of Solidago altissima in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 19 Aug 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Wear's Valley, TN Date: 2009-November-18Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
The yellow Solidago altissima inflorescence is at the apex of a usually single stem. The flower clusters are secund - all on more or less the same side of the peduncle - arising from the axils of the reduced upper leaves on the plant.
Solidago altissima

Site: Wear's Valley, TN Date: 2009-November-18Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/40f/9 ISO200
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
90mm (135 equiv)
Solidago altissima flowers are secund, with each blossom normally having 5 to 7 disk flowers and usually 9-17 ray flowers.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Solidago altissima

Site: Wear's Valley, TN Date: 2009-November-18Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/40f/9 ISO200
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
90mm (135 equiv)
A characteristic which is key in goldenrod species identification is the vein structure in the leaves. Solidago altissima has three main veins, sharing that characteristic with a few other goldenrod species (including S. canadensis and S. gigantea.)
Click on the photo for a larger image
Solidago altissima

Site: Wear's Valley, TN Date: 2009-November-18Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/125f/5.6 ISO200
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 55-200mm 4-5.6G ED
112mm (168 equivalent)
Tall Goldenrod grows in colonies with several stems arising from a rhizome. They gray-green leaves are alternating as they rise up the stem, usually 3"-6" long, reduced in the upper part of the plant as they enter the inflorescence.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Solidago altissima

Site: Wear's Valley, TN Date: 2009-November-18Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/125f/5.0 ISO280
Nikon Nikkor AF-S 55-200mm 4-5.6G ED
125mm (187 equivalent)
Tall Goldenrod grows in large colonies, sometimes mixed in with other wildflowers.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Solidago altissima

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer