Solidago altissima

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Solidago altissima
Solidago canadensis resized.jpg
Photo by Kevin Robertson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Solidago
Species: S. altissima
Binomial name
Solidago altissima
Natural range of Solidago altissima from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common Name(s): tall goldenrod; Great Plains tall goldenrod; southern tall goldenrod;[1] Canada goldenrod;[2] Canadian goldenrod; late goldenrod[3]

Taxonomic Notes

Synonym(s): S. canadensis var. scabra; S. hirsutissima; S. pruinosa; S. canadensis var. gilvocanescens

Varieties: S. altissima Linnaeus var. altissima; S. altissima Linnaeus var. pluricephala (Rydberg) Semple; S. altissima Linnaeus var. gilvocanescens M.C. Johnston


Solidago altissima is a dioecious perennial forb/herb.[2] This plant is rough, erect, and produces small yellow flowers that are arranged along upper side of branches, producing a plume.[4] Each ramet contains 20,000 flowers on average.[5] It reaches heights of 3-6 ft (0.91-1.83 m)[3] and forms large compact below-ground rhizome systems.[4] Seeds averaged 42.9 µg.[5]


This species is found in all of the lower 48 United States, excluding Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. It also occurs in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.[2] S. altissima is also an exotic invasive in Europe (as cited in[6]).



S. altissima is found in thickets, prairies, open woods,[3] stream banks, limestone glades, sand pine ridges, pond shores, live oak groves, floodplain forests, and marshes.[7][8] It is also found in disturbed areas including under highway bridges, fields, roadsides, ditches, burned pinelands, and woodland remnants.[8]

This species prefers moist to dry soils composed of clay, clay loam, medium loam, sandy loam, sandy and caliche.[3] In a Wisconsin Prairie, the frequency in 1951 was 32 and in 1961 was 48.[9] Also on Wisconsin prairies, aboveground biomass from 1987-1993 averaged 838.4 ± 92.8 g m-2 and mean percent cover ranging from 14.2-29.3% depending upon the fire regime.[10] S. altissima responded positively to soil disturbance by agriculture in Southwest Georgia.[11]

Associated species: Schoenus nigricans, Aristida spp., Muhlenbergia, Serenoa repens, Pinus clausa, Heterotheca, and Juniperus.[8]


S. altissima has been observed flowering from August through November.[1][12]

Seed dispersal

Initial colonization occurs from seeds producing genets. Once established, increases within the population should occur via the production of ramets (clonal growth) according to a model.[13]

Seed bank and germination

Seed set of S. altissima was 22-25.2% in a study by the University of Kentucky. Another study in Kalamazoo County, Michigan in 1980 displayed a similar seed set of 33.2%, but showed this was higher late-flowering compared to early flowering clones.[5]

Fire ecology

On a Wisconsin tallgrass prairie, two burn cycles of a 3 year interval showed increases in cover during spring and summer burns. However, an increase in cover also occurred on unburned sites, suggesting the burn cycle did not negatively affect S. altissima cover but may not be responsible for the increase.[10]

Populations of Solidago altissima have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[14][15][16]


S. altissima is visited by ground-nesting bees from the Andrenidae family (Andrena hirticincta, A. nubecula and Perdita octomaculata), long-tongued bees from the Apidae family (Bombus impatiens and Melissodes druriella), leaf beetles from the Chrysomelidae family such as Diabrotica undecimpunctata, sweat bees from the Halictidae family such as Lasioglossum lineatulum, butterflies from the Nymphalidae family such as Danaus plexippus and assassin bugs from the Reduviidae family such as Phymata americana.[17] S. altissima attracts birds, butterflies, and a large number of native bees.[3] This includes non-native honey bees.[3][5]

Herbivory and toxicology

S. altissima responds to insect herbivory by spending energy to maintain itself, rather than producing seeds.[18] There are at least 103 species of insect herbivores of S. altissima, 42 (from 17 families) are specialists on genus Solidago.[19]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Mowing does not effect the growth, survival, or reproduction of juvenile or seedling plants.[20]

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley AS (2015) Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Herbarium.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 USDA NRCS (2016) The PLANTS Database (, 118 January 2018). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Plant database: Solidago altissima. (18 January 2018) Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. URL:
  4. 4.0 4.1 Meyer AH, Schmid B (1999) Experimental demography of rhizome populations of establishing clones of Solidago altissima. Journal of Ecology 87(1):42-54.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Gross RS, Werner PA (1983) Relationships among flowering phenology, insect visitors, and seed-set of individuals: Experimental studies on four co-occurring species of goldenrod (Solidago: compositae). Ecological monographs 53(1):95-117.
  6. Meyer AH, Schmid B (1999) Experimental demography of old-field perennial solidago altissima: The dynamics of the shoot population. Journal of Ecology 87(1):17-27.
  7. Bostick PE (1971) Vascular plants of Panola Mountain, Georgia. Castanea 36(3):194-209.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Florida State University Herbarium Database. URL: Last accessed: June 2021. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, K. Craddock Burks, A. F. Clewell, R.K. Godfrey, Bruce Hansen, JoAnn Hansen, and R. Kral. States and counties: Florida: Dixie, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, and Walton.
  9. Anderson RC (1973) The use of fire as a management tool on the Curtis Prairie. Proceedings Annual [12th] Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: a quest for ecological understanding. Lubbock, TX pg 23-35.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Howe HF (1995) Succession and fire season in experimental prairie plantings. Ecology 76(6):1917-1925.
  11. Hedman, C.W., S.L. Grace, and S.E. King. (2000). Vegetation composition and structure of southern coastal plain pine forests: an ecological comparison. Forest Ecology and Management 134:233-247.
  12. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 18 JAN 2018
  13. Eriksson O (1993) Dynamics of genets in clonal plants. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 8(9):313-316.
  14. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  15. Glitzenstein, J. S., D. R. Streng, R. E. Masters, K. M. Robertson and S. M. Hermann 2012. Fire-frequency effects on vegetation in north Florida pinelands: Another look at the long-term Stoddard Fire Research Plots at Tall Timbers Research Station. Forest Ecology and Management 264: 197-209.
  16. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.
  17. [1]
  18. Root RB (1996) Herbivore pressure on goldenrods (Solidago altissima): Its variation and cumulative effects. Ecology 77(4):1074-1087.
  19. Root RB & Cappuccino N (1992) Patterns in population change and the organization of the insect community associated with goldenrod. Ecological Monographs 62(3):393-420.
  20. Meyer AH, Schmid B (1999) Seed dynamics and seedling establishment in the invading perennial Solidago altissima under different experimental treatments. Journal of Ecology 87:28-41.