Hello fellow readers,
A few weeks ago, we chatted about fall flowering perennials. An old friend, naturalist, and bird photographer, Mike Niven of Coatesville PA, wrote in that his Joe-pye weed, one of the fall beauties, grew especially tall this year likely due to plentiful rains. He added a question about goldenrod, also on my fall must haves. “Isn’t it an aggressive grower that can push out other species and therefore be classified as invasive in certain situations?” Mike shared an article by Chris Helzer of The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska that explained while goldenrod is valuable to pollinators, there are places where it has squelched out favorable prairie grasses. Here’s what else I dug up Mike.
The NJ Beekeepers Association lists goldenrod as a pollen source favored by bees from late August to early October. However, they link to the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species site (Invasive.org) which lists Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea Aiton) as invasive, though both are native to the United States. It never occurred to me that native plants could be considered invasive. Yet goldenrod is on many lists as a favorable plant not only for pollinators, but for erosion control. The NJ Audubon Society does not have goldenrod on their invasive plant list nor does the NJ Invasive Species Strike Team. Same is true of The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) who writes – “Invasive Plants are those that are not native to an area, spread quickly, and cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health.”
Then there’s the Penn State Extension’s list of recommended native plants for perennial gardens which includes Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciose). Rutgers University’s Cooperative Extension has Grey Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) as a native plant to include in your garden.
The USDA maintains a list of federally-recognized noxious weeds which, per the Federal Plant Protection Act, is defined as those “that can injure or cause damage to crops (including nursery stock), livestock, poultry or other agriculture, natural resources of the United States, public health, or the environment.” Goldenrod is not on their list. However, they provide a definition of Opportunistic Native Plants – those “able to take advantage of disturbance to the soil or existing vegetation to spread quickly and out-compete other plants on the disturbed site.” I’d agree goldenrod can be opportunistic.
While it seems true at times there may be too much of a good thing, important pollinators including our at-risk honeybees don’t think so. Garden dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com