False or Autumn Goldenrod
Solidago sphacelata Raf. is easily recognized by its very short pappus bristles and petiolate, cordate rosette and basal stem leaves (Semple & Cook 2006 FNA). The common name "false goldenrod" comes from the erroneous assignment of the species to the segregate genus Brachychaeta Torr. & A. Gray rather than to Solidago, where it belongs. Semple and Beck (2021) placed S. sphacelata in S. subsect. Brachychaeta (Torr. & A. Gray) Semple & J.B. Beck in S. sect. Argutae (Mackenzie) Semple & J.B. Beck based on unpublished DNA sequence results. The short pappus is just the extreme case of shorter bristle length (Hood & Semple 2003). The species occurs in open woods and rocky places across the central eastern U.S. The species was included in a multivariate analysis of S. sect. Argutae that includes the S. arguta complex and the S. patula complex; S. sphacelata was strongly supported as distinct from other species in the section (Semple et al. 2021). The species is diploid 2n=18.