Soft or Velvet(y) or Ashly Goldenrod
Solidago mollis Bartl. is native to the Great Plains of southern Canada and the U.S. Leaves are coarsely scabrous, hispid to soft-canescent, and sometimes strongly 3-nerved. The inflorescence is quite variable in shape, ranging from compact club-shaped to elongate cone-shaped, the apex leaning to one side (Semple & Cook 2006 FNA). The species has been treated as S. nemoralis var. mollis (Bartling) A. Gray. The species can look similar to S. altissima var. gilvocanescens of subsect. Triplinerviae and both form many stemmed clones on the prairies.
Nesom (1993) discussed the possible conspecificity of S. mollis and S. velutina (including S. sparsiflora); this is not justified based on morphology and habitat differences. In a multivariate study of S. subsect. Nemorales (Semple et al. 2018), specimens of S. mollis were more similar to S. radula than to S. velutina and no specimens of S. mollis were assigned to S. velutina in the classificatory analysis.
Plants with narrower, more sparsely strigose leaves that are similar in appearance to those of S. radula but are not as scabrous have been treated as S. mollis var. angustata Shinners; these are treated here as S. radula and excluded from S. mollis.
The species includes tetraploids and hexaploids (2n=36, 54).