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Solidago L.Goldenrods

Goldenrods are members of the genus Solidago L. (Compositae: Astereae), which includes about 123 species world wide: 104 species native to Canada and the United States, 8-9 species native to Mexico, and 10-12 species native to South America, the Azores, Europe and Asia. The latter are derived from North American taxa. All species are herbaceous perennials ranging from 2 cm to 2.5 m tall. These usually have small heads with yellow pistillate ray florets and perfect disc florets aggregated into flat-topped, wand-shaped or secund-conical inflorescences. The phyllaries are generally lanceolate to ovate or oblong, present in 2-4 graduated series, and have a translucent midrib. The pappus has long been described as simple, but Hood & Semple (2003) reported variation in pappus bristle traits with the more primitive conditions being double or sometimes triple.  The longest bristles are sometimes moderately clavate.  Rarely the fourth short 2° outer whorl is present as 1 to a few bristles. All goldenrods have a chromosome base number of x=9 and many include several different ploidy levels. The following ploidy levels are known in the genus Solidago: 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x, 6x, 8x, 10x, 12x, and 14x.

Solidago, native world wide distribution

The genus was once thought to include the Grass-leaved Goldenrods, but these belong in the genus Euthamia, with about four species native to eastern North America and one native to western North America. Studies based on chloroplast DNA restriction fragment length polymorphisms and ITS DNA sequence data clearly show that Solidago is related to Chrysoma and Brintonia native to the southeastern United States, Oreochrysum, Chrysothamnus, Petradoria, Tonestus and Hesperadoria) native to western North America (Lane et al. 1996; Zhang 1996, Ph.D., U.Waterloo; Brouillet et al. 2001a,b, 2009; Beck et al., 2004, pers. comm.; Schilling et al. 2008) and Bigelowia native to the southeastern United States. The white-rayed "aster" genus Sericocarpus is also related to goldenrods. Euthamia is not as closely related to Solidago as these genera.  

The monotypic genus Brintonia E.L. Greene has been sometimes included in Solidago (e.g., Nesom 1993) and sometimes not (e.g. Cronquist 1980).  During preparation of the treatments of the goldenrods for Flora North America (Semple 2006; Semple and Cook 2006), B. discoidea was found to be sufficiently different in involucre, floret and pappus traits to be excluded from Solidago. DNA sequence studies also indicate Brintonia does not belong within Solidago but is closely related (Beck et al., 2004).

Zhang (1996, Ph.D.; summarized in Semple, et al. 1999) showed that the flat-topped goldenrods (S. sect. Corymbosae; treated as the genus Oligoneuron by some authors) were nested within other lines of goldenrods included in Solidago by all recent authors. A cladistic analyses based on goldenrod morphology reached the same conclusion (Duc Minh Le, unpublished honors thesis; Carolyn Chang, unpublished honors thesis). Recent DNA sequence studies indicated that there is a very low level of variation (< 1%) in ITS and other sequences within Solidago (Shilling et al. 2008). 

Semple (2016) included an intuitive phylogeny of Solidago.  A revised version of the figure is available.

Goldenrods in a cage
Goldenrods are sometimes treated unkindly

Goldenrods do not cause hayfever! Ragweed, Ambrosia spp., does; it has inconspicuous green flowers and blooms at the same time as the insect-pollinated, showy-flowered goldenrods. 

Systematics and Illustrations of Goldenrods

Publications on goldenrods by John C. Semple

Brouillet, L. and J.C. Semple. 1981. A propos du status taxonomique de Solidago ptarmicoides (Nees) Boivin. Canad. J. Bot. 58: 17-21.

 Semple, J.C., R. A. Brammall and J.G.  Chmielewski. 1981. Chromosome numbers of goldenrods, Euthamia and Solidago, (Compositae-Astereae) Canad. J. Bot. 59: 1167-1173.

Semple, J.C. and G. Ringius. 1983. The goldenrods of Ontario: Solidago L. and Euthamia Nutt. Univ. Waterloo Biol. Ser. 26: 1-84.

Semple, J.C. and G. Ringius. 1983. Treatment of Solidago. In: G.W. Argus and D.J. White, eds. Atlas of the rare vascular plants of Ontario. Part 2. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.

Semple, J.C., G. Ringius, C. Leeder and G. Morton. 1984. Chromosome number of goldenrods, Euthamia and Solidago (Compositae-Astereae). II. Additional counts with comments on cytogeography. Brittonia 36: 280-292. Erratum. 37: 121.

Semple, J.C. 1985a. Chromosome number determinations in Fam. Compositae tribe Astereae. Rhodora 87: 517-527.

Chmielewski, J. and J.C.  Semple. 1985b. The cytogeography and post glacial migration of Solidago flexicaulis (Compositae) in southern Ontario. Naturaliste Canadien 112: 307-311.

Semple, J.C. 1985c. New names and combinations in Astereae. Phytologia 58: 429-431.

Chmielewski, J.G., R.S. Ringius and J.C.  Semple. 1987. The cytogeography of Solidago uliginosa Nutt. (Compositae: Astereae) in the Great Lakes region. Canad. J. Bot. 65: 1045-1046.

Ringius , G. S. and J.C.  Semple. 1987. Cytogeography of the Solidago spathulata -- glutinosacomplex (Compositae: Astereae). Canad. J. Bot. 65: 2458-2462.

Semple, J.C. and J.G. Chmielewski. 1987. Chromosome numbers in Fam. Compositae, Tribe Astereae. II. Additional Counts. Rhodora 89: 319-325.

Brunton, D. F., and J.C. Semple. 1987. Treatment of Solidago nemoralis ssp. decemflora. In: G.W. Argus, K. Pryer, D. White, and C. J. Keddy, eds. Atlas of the rare vascular plants of Ontario. Fascicle 4. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.

Heard, S.B. and J.C.  Semple. 1988. The Solidago rigida complex (Compositae: Astereae): a multivariate morphometric analysis and chromosome numbers. Canad. J. Bot. 66: 1800-1807.

Chmielewski, J.G., J.C.  Semple, L.M. Burr, and W.R. Hawthorn. 1989. Comparison of achene characteristics within and among diploid and tetraploid clones of Solidago flexicaulis and their significance in germination and resource allocation studies. Canad. J. Bot. 67: 1821-1832.

Semple, J.C. and J. G. Chmielewski, AND M. Lane. 1989. Chromosome numbers in Fam. Compositae, Tribe Astereae. III. Additional counts and comments on some generic limits limits and ancestral base numbers. Rhodora 91: 296-314.

Brammall, R.A. and J.C.  Semple. 1990. The cytotaxonomy of Solidago nemoralis (Compositae: Astereae). Canad. J. Bot. 68: 2065-2069.

 Semple, J.C., J.G. Chmielewski, and R.A. Brammall. 1990. A multivariate study of Solidago nemoralis (Compositae: Astereae) and comparison with S. californica and S. sparsiflora. Canad. J. Bot. 68: 2070-2082.

Ringius, G.S. and J.C. Semple. 1991. New combinations in Solidago simplex (Compositae: Astereae). Phytologia 70: 396-399.

Semple, J.C. 1992. A geographic summary of chromosome number reports for North American asters and goldenrods (Compositae: Astereae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Garden 79: 95-109. [Based on invited paper presented at the W.H. Lewis Tribute Symposium, St. Louis, 7 Oct 1990]

Semple, J.C., J.G. Chmielewski, and ChunSheng Xiang. 1992. Chromosome numbers in Fam. Compositae, Tribe Astereae. IV. Additional reports and comments on the cytogeography and status of some species of Aster and Solidago. Rhodora 94: 48-62.

Semple, J.C. 1992. The goldenrods of Ontario: Solidago L. and Euthamia Nutt. Revised Edition. Univ. Waterloo Biol. Ser. 36: 1-82.

Semple, J.C., Jie Zhang and ChunSheng Xiang. 1993. Chromosome numbers in Fam. Compositae, Tribe Astereae. V. Eastern North American taxa. Rhodora 95: 234-253.

Semple, J.C., G.S. Ringius and Jie Zhang. 1999. The goldenrods of Ontario: Solidago L. and Euthamia Nutt. 3rd Edition. Univ. Waterloo Biol. Ser. 39: 1-90. [abstract]

Semple, J.C.,  ChunSheng Xiang, Jie Zhang, M. Horsburgh and R.E. Cook. 2001. Chromosome number determinations in Fam. Compositae, Tribe Astereae. VI. Western North American taxa and comments on generic treatments of North American asters. Rhodora 103: 202-218.

Hood, J.L.A. and J.C. Semple. 2003. Pappus variation in Solidago (Asteraceae: Astereae). Sida 20(4): 1617-1630. [abstract]

Semple, J.C. 2003. New names and combinations in Solidago (Asteraceae: Astereae). Sida 20(4): 1605-1616. [abstract]

Wieboldt, T.F. and J.C. Semple. 2003. Solidago fauciba (Asteraceae: Astereae), a new mesic forest goldenrod from the Appalachian Mountains. Sida 20(4): 1605-1616. [abstract]

Cook, R.E. and J.C. Semple. 2004. A new name and a new combination in Solidago subsect. Glomeruliflorae (Asteraceae: Astereae). Sida 21: 221-224.

Semple, J.C.,and R.E. Cook. 2004. Chromosome numbers in Fam. Compositae, Tribe Astereae. VII. Some eastern North American and Eurasian taxa. Rhodora 106: 253-272.

Semple, J.C. 2004. Miscellaneous nomenclatural changes in Astereae (Asteraceae). Sida 21(2): 759-765.

Semple, J.C. 2006. Brintonia E.L. Greene. pp. 106. In Flora North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America. Vol. 20. Asteraceae, Part. 2. Astereae and Senecioneae. Oxford University Press.

Semple, J.C. and R.E. Cook. 2006. Solidago. pp. 107-166. In Flora North America Editorial Committee, eds. Flora of North America. Vol. 20. Asteraceae, Part. 2. Astereae and Senecioneae. Oxford University Press.

Semple, J.C. 2007. (1775) Proposal to conserve the name Solidago elongata Nutt. against S. elongata Pépin (Compositae). Taxon 56: 605-606.

Schlaepfer, D.R., P.J. Edwards, J.C. Semple, and R. Billeter. 2008. Cytogeography of Solidago gigantea Ait. (Asteraceae) and its invasive ploidy level. J. Biogeography 35: 2119-2127.

Cook, R.E. and J.C. Semple. 2008. The cytogeography of Solidago subsect. Glomeruliflorae (Asteraceae: Astereae). Botany 86: 1488-1496.

Semple, J.C. and K. Watanabe. 2008. Chapter 4. A review of chromosome numbers in the Asteraceae with hypotheses on chromosomal base number evolution. Pp. 21-32. In Systematics, Evolution and Biogeography of the Compositae, Funk, V.A., A. Susanna, T. Stuessy, and R. Bayer (eds.). IAPT, Vienna, Austria.

Brouillet, L., T. Lowrey, L. Urbatsch, V. Karaman-Castro, G. Sancho, S. Wagstaff, and J.C. Semple. 2009. Chapter 37. Phylogeny and evolution of the Astereae (Compositae or Asteraceae). Pp. 449-490. In Systematics, Evolution and Biogeography of the Compositae, Funk, V.A., A. Susanna, T. Stuessy, and R. Bayer (eds.). IAPT, Vienna, Austria.

Cook, R.E., J.C. Semple and B. Baum. 2009. A multivariate morphometric study of Solidago subsect. Glomeruliflorae (Asteraceae: Astereae). Botany. 87: 97-111.

Lopez Laphitz, R., Yunfei Ma and J.C. Semple. 2011. A multivariate study of Solidago subsect. Junceae and a new species in South America (Asteraceae: Astereae). Novon 21: 219-225.

Yilin Chen & John C. Semple. 2011. Solidago Linnaeus. pp. 632-634. In Wu, Z. Y., Raven, P. H. & Hong, D. Y., eds., Flora of China Volume 20–21 (Asteraceae). Science Press (Beijing) & Missouri Botanical Garden Press (St. Louis). Published online on 25 October 2011. Printed version December 2011.

Peirson, J.A., A.A. Reznicek, & J.C. Semple. 2012. Polyploidy, speciation, and infraspecific cytotype variation in Goldenrods: the cytogeography of Solidago subsection Humiles (Asteraceae: Astereae) in North America. Taxon: 61: 197-210.

Semple, J.C. 2012. Euthamia p. 331. Solidago pp. 421-422. In B. G. Baldwin et al. (eds.), The Jepson Manual, Vascular Plants of California. 2nd Ed. University of California Press., Berkeley.

Semple, J.C., Lan Tong, and P. Pastolero. 2012. Neotypification of Solidago salicina (Asteraceae: Astereae) and a multivariate comparison with S. patula. Phytoneuron 2012-56: 1–6.

Semple, J.C., L. Tong, M.J. Oldham and W. Bakowsky. 2012. Solidago pallida new to Ontario and Canada. Phytoneuron 2012-106: 1-5.

Semple, J.C.  2012.  Typification of Solidago gracillima (Asteraceae: Astereae) and application of the name.  Phytoneuron 2012-107: 1-10.

Semple, J.C. and K. Gandhi.  2012.  Neotypification of Solidago buckleyi (Asteraceae: Astereae) and observations on its distribution.  Phytoneuron 2012-111: 1-5.

Semple, J.C.  2013.  On the name Solidago mirabilis (Asteraceae: Astereae) and a new name for a Japanese species of golderod.  Phytoneuron 2013-24: 1-9.

Semple, J.C. , and J.A. Peirson.  2013.  A revised nomenclature for the Solidago simplex complex (Asteraceae: Astereae).  Phytoneuron 2013-41. 1-5.

Semple, J.C. 2013.  Application of the names Solidago stricta and S. virgata (Asteraceae: Astereae).  Phytoneuron 2013-42. 1-3.

Semple, J.C. 2013. A new species of Triplinerviae goldenrod in eastern Canada (Asteraceae: Astereae): Solidago brendiae. Phytoneuron 2013-57: 1–9.

Semple, J.C., H. Faheemuddin, Y.A. Chong, M.K. Sorour, J.A. Hood, I. Khamis, Y. Ma, and K. Kornobis. 2013. A multivariate morphometric study of the Solidago canadensis/S. lepida complex of Solidago subsect. Triplinerviae (Asteraceae: Astereae). Phytoneuron 2013-58: 1–20.

Beck, J.B. , J.C. Semple, J.M. Brull, S.L. Lance, M.M. Phillips, S.B. Hoot, and G.A. Meyer. 2014.  Genus-wide microsatellite primers for the goldenrods (Solidago; Asteraceae). Applications in Plant Sciences 2014 2(4): 1300093.

Semple, J.C. , and D. Estes. 2014. Discovery of Solidago porteri (Asteraceae: Astereae) in Alabama and Tennessee and a second population in Georgia.  Phytoneuron 2014-45: 1-11.

Semple, J.C., H. Rahman, H., S. Sbovski, M.K. Sorour, K. Kornobis, R. Lopez Laphitz, and L. Tong. 2015.  A multivariate morphometric study of the Solidago altissima complex and S. canadensis (Asteraceae: Astereae).  Phytoneuron 2015-10. 1–31.

Semple J.C., R.E. Cook, and E. Owen. 2015. Chromosome numbers in Fam. Compositae, Tribe Astereae. VIII. Eastern North American taxa. II. Rhodora 117: 80-91.

Beck, J.B. and J.C. Semple. 2015. Next-Generation Sampling: Pairing Genomics with Herbarium Specimens Provides Species-Level Signal in Solidago (Asteraceae). Applications in Plant Sciences 2015 3(6): 1500014. DOI:

Semple, J.C. and A.V. Gilman. 2015. Solidago brendiae (Asteraceae: Astereae) in Vermont.  Phytoneuron 2015-40: 1–7.

Lopez Laphitz, R. and J.C. Semple. 2015. A multivariate morphometric analysis of the Solidago chilensis complex in South America and related taxa in North America (Asteraceae: Astereae).  Ann. Mo. Bot. Garden 100(4): 423-441.

Semple, J.C., S. Bzovsky and Lan Tong. 2016. Typification of Solidago chapmanii (Asteraceae: Astereae) and a multivariate comparison with S. drummondii, S. fistulosa, S. odora and S. rugosa.  Phytoneuron 2016-12: 1–16.

Semple, J.C. and B.R. Keener.  2016.  A recent collection of Solidago buckleyi in Alabama (Asteraceae: Astereae) and multivariate comparison of S. buckleyi, S. petiolaris var. petiolaris and S. porteri.  Phytoneuron 2016-15: 1–8.

Semple, J.C.  2016.  Documenting a Solidago bicolor × S. brendiae hybrid (Asteraceae: Astereae) from Nova Scotia.   Phytoneuron 2016-23. 1–10.

Semple, J.C. and R. Lopez Laphitz. 2016.  On Solidago gypsophila and S. pringlei (Asteraceae: Astereae), rare and not so rare Mexican endemics:  a multivariate study of the Tortifolia group of S. subsect. Triplinerviae.  Phytoneuron 2016-29. 1-20.

Semple, J.C.  2016. An intuitive phylogeny and summary of chromosome number variation in the goldenrod genus Solidago (Asteraceae: Astereae). Phytoneuron 2016-32. 1-9.

Cheek, M. D. and J.C. Semple. 2016. First official record of naturalised populations of Solidago altissima L. var. pluricephala M.C. Johnst. (Asteraceae: Astereae) in Africa.  South Afr. J. Bot. 105: 333-336.   doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2016.05.001

Semple, J.C. , R. Lopez Laphitz, H. Rahman, and Yunfei Ma. 2016.  On Solidago durangensis (Asteraceae: Astereae): A multivariate study with specimens of subsect. Junceae, subsect. Maritimae, and subsect. Triplinerviae.  Phytoneuron 2016-48: 1–19.

Semple, J.C.  2016.  Solidago maya  (Asteraceae: Astereae: S. subsect. Maritimae) a new species of goldenrod from southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Phytoneuron 2016-70: 1–8.

Semple, J.C., T. Shea, H. Rahman, Y. Ma, and K. Kornobis. 2016.  A multivariate study of the Solidago sempervirens complex  (Asteraceae: Astereae: S. subsect. Maritimae). Phytoneuron 2016-71. 1-31.

Semple, J.C., T. Shea, M. El-Swesi, H. Rahman, and Y. Ma. 2016.  A multivariate study of the Solidago stricta complex  (Asteraceae: Astereae: S. subsect. Maritimae). Phytoneuron 2016-86. 1-34.

Semple, J.C., Y. Ma and L. Tong. 2016.  On Solidago simplex (Asteraceae: Astereae): a multivariate study including S. glutinosa, S. leiocarpa, S. multiradiata and S. spathulata. Phytoneuron 2016-87. 1-21.

Semple, J.C. and C. FRYE. 2017.  A collection of Solidago rupestris (Asteraceae: Astereae) from Mineral Co., West Virginia.  Phytoneuron 2017-13.  1-3.

Semple, J.C. and T. Ohi-Toma. 2017. Typification of Solidago yokusaiana (Asteraceae: Astereae) a distinctive Japanese species.  Phytoneuron 2017-16.  1-6.

Verloove F., B.J.M. Zonneveld and J.C. Semple. 2017: First evidence for the presence of invasive Solidago altissima (Asteraceae) in Europe. Willdenowia 47: 69-75.   doi: https://

Semple, J.C., L. Tong, and Y.A. Chong.  2017.  Multivariate studies of Solidago subsect. Squarrosae. I. The Solidago speciosa complex (Asteraceae: Astereae).  Phytoneuron 2017-18: 1–23.

Semple, J.C. 2017.  Solidago jejunifolia (Asteraceae:Astereae) in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.  Phytoneuron 2017-19. 1-5.

Last updated 16 March 2017 by J.C. Semple

© 2017 J.C. Semple, including all photographs unless otherwise indicated