Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the the October 11, 2009 Newsletter, an On-the-Road Edition:

Down a bank beside the Vicksburg, Mississippi bus station a wildflower was blossoming and I just couldn't take my eyes from it. Its robust growth and lush greenness was so refreshingly different from the parched, dry-crackly world I was coming from. That's it above.

That's the Tall or Late Goldenrod, sometimes even called the Canada Goldenrod, though that name is best reserved for a closely related species. Tall Goldenrod is SOLIDAGO ALTISSIMA, the State Flower of my native state of Kentucky. It's very similar to several other big goldenrod species and I'm confident in the identification only because I collected some flowers and leaves, and "keyed out" the name in the online, free but unfinished "Flora of North America."

Among the field marks defining this species are its tallness, its narrow leaves with three dominant veins, its exceptionally small flowers, and the hairiness you can see on the flower-head pedicels, below:

flowers of Tall Goldenrod, SOLIDAGO ALTISSIMA

Tall Goldenrod is native to most of North America, though absent from the northernmost areas, and most of the US northwestern states.