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Goldenrod or Ragweed?

Goldenrod field

In August goldenrod fills the fields surrounding our house. It is more than time to get the fields mowed, but for the moment I am enjoying the sunniness of the various types of goldenrod. Therefore, I was taken aback by someone who told me I did not  have fields of goldenrod, but with a glare, told me I had fields of ragweed.

Rough stemmed goldenrod

I am more than willing to doubt myself, so I did not protest. However, it seemed unlikely. How could Heath be filled with fields of ragweed and not have a good portion of the populace spending two or three months in misery?  In fact it only took a quick look through my old copy of Peterson’s Guide to Wildflowers to determine that whatever I have it is not ragweed.  Common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, has bisected artemesia-like foliage which is nothing like the foliage on the goldenrods in my field. Rough stemmed goldenrod, Solidago rugosa, is the most common goldenrod in the field. It has hairy stems and toothed, feather-veined foliage.

Sweet goldenrod

At first I thought this was sweet goldenrod, but now I don’t think so. It doesn’t have the anise-like odor of the crushed leaves of Solidago odora. Perhaps it is the slender fragrant goldenrod, with only one nerve (parallel vein) on each narrow, grassy leaf. No fragrance I can detect however.

There are 20 varieties of goldenrod in the guidebook. I give up trying to ID mine, but I am happy to know I can enjoy them all, guilt free.

8 comments to Goldenrod or Ragweed?

  • Turned out that years ago I did have ragweed and not goldenrod. It’s gone now, but on my trip to the store this afternoon I noticed empty fields teeming with what I am sure is probably ragweed. Let the sneezing begin.

  • Pat

    Denise – I’m not sure I have ever seen ragweed, but I’m not allergic so I may just never have noticed.

  • A few years ago, a local news station did a story on Ragweed…..it was the first time I knew what it was. I had seen it growing wild forever but didn’t know that was ragweed. I can guarantee that what you have is Goldenrod. The two plants look very different….

  • Pat

    Sally – I’ll have to go to Google images and see the flower. I’ve only seen images of the foliage. Thanks for visiting.

  • Hi Pat,
    TY for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment. I wasn’t a fan of Hosta for a lot of years but am coming to appreciate foliage more.
    I didn’t realize that you’re a Massachusetts gal! I have never heard of Heath. What a beautiful place to live! Are you in the Western part of the state?

  • I love your pictures. Beautiful scenery and flowers. 🙂

  • The 2 plants look nothing alike nor does their flower…I know both as I grow many varieties of goldenrod and I am allergic to ragweed and make sure I pull it out. Your golden fields are lovely.

  • Your haughty friend is the reason I like to know botanical names.

    My reply: “This golden stuff is Solidago. Ragweed is Ambrosia,” in my best Ms. Prissy voice. “Ragweed blooms are hardly noticeable and white.”

    When I first came to south Georgia, I asked about some finely cutleaf weed in the yard and was told it was ragweed. “Bidens,” I learned years later. It certainly didn’t look like any ragweed I knew but what did I know, maybe there was more than one kind.

    Actually I just say Spanish Needles, Ragweed and Goldenrod until I’m pressed to impress.

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