Native Plant Patch: Goldenrod

Pine barren goldenrod Solidago fistulosa flowers
a wild patch of pine barren goldenrod (Solidago fistulosa)

I have always been a defender of weeds and wild things … the overlooked and unappreciated … the underdogs in the natural world, and goldenrod is always on my list of plants deserving more love than they normally receive. 

Some blame goldenrod for seasonal allergies, but these are generally caused from wind blown, wind pollinated, plants rather than insect pollinated plants like goldenrod.

Check out some of the wonderful wildlife that use a goldenrod patch.

goldenrod flowers with ambush bug
ambush bug
goldenrod flowers with black and red mason waspgoldenrod flowers with black and red mason wasp
black and red mason wasp
goldenrod flowers with black tachnid fly
black tachnid fly

Goldenrod relies heavily on a great variety of insect pollinators and in some green spaces those are in short supply because of habitat loss or heavy chemical use in lawn care and gardening.  

goldenrod flowers with delta flower scarab beetle
delta flower scarab beetle
goldenrod flowers with flower fly
flower fly

During the short time, generally a week or so, that goldenrod is in bloom it is constantly being visited by all manner of pollinators.  One small patch of goldenrod, with just a few plants, can supply nectar and pollen to a great many insects.  While providing food for the visitors, their presence and activity attracts insect eating birds, bugs, reptiles, and amphibians.  

goldenrod flowers with fruit fly
fruit fly
hairy maggot blow fly on a leaf near goldenrod flowers
hairy maggot blow fly
goldenrod flowers with honeybee

All the creatures that use these flowers need their nectar to survive … to get through their lives … to complete their life cycles.  In addition to the pollinators, there are predators that live among the petals and stems.  The cycle of life is maintained, but on a very small, tiny creature scale. 

long legged fly on a leaf near goldenrod flowers
long legged fly
mosquito nectaring on goldenrod flowers
orchard spider on a goldenrod flower
orchard spider

Watching a goldenrod patch in bloom can be quit entertaining and fascinating because of the wide variety of creatures that take advantage of the bounty it provides.

robber fly eating a fruit fly on a goldenrod leaf
robber fly eating a fruit fly
potter wasp on a goldenrod flower
potter wasp
goldenrod flowers with red-banded hairstreak
red-banded hairstreak

My hope is that by my pointing out these tiny creatures it will give you pause  the next time you are considering giving goldenrod the heave ho from your garden. Don’t hate … pollinate and embrace your green space!

For more information about bugs check out the Florida 4-H Bug Club site for an Online Bug Identification Key


Insect has lots of photos to peruse to help ID insects in Florida at Insect Identification by State: Florida they also have a BugFinder – Insect Search and Identify Tool at this pageand a Facebook page at Insect on Facebook.

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