Friday, September 11, 2009

Gray Goldenrod

Blue Jay Barrens has lost the brilliant yellows of the summer prairie flowers and is now transitioning to the autumn yellows. In the next two weeks, huge sections of the fields will change to yellow as the goldenrods open into full bloom. One prairie goldenrod that often goes unnoticed is the Gray Goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis.

Gray Goldenrod is a small plant that is normally less than 30 inches tall. Most plants will have just a single flower cluster at the top of the stalk. Not an eye catching display unless you really get down and look.

This plant doesn’t compete well with the tall grasses and is normally found with companions of similar stature. Here the Gray Goldenrod fits nicely in this stand of Little Bluestem.

All parts of this plant are small. The stem leaves gradually increase in size as you progress down the stem. Sometimes the plants will have several larger basal leaves at ground level.

The Gray Goldenrod will grow in a variety of soil conditions, but its here in the dry prairie soil that it excels. Here in the short grass of the driest sites, it is the only goldenrod that survives. Not one to form dense groups, the Gray Goldenrod appears randomly across the landscape.

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