Dispelling the Myth

Fall has peeked in here in southern Ontario for the moment. Hay fever is in full swing and people still think the lovely and garden worthy goldenrod is to blame. It’s no wonder, goldenrod is flamboyant with its rich golden spikes of pollen rich blooms and the first thing people see and blame for their seasonal misery. Except…goldenrod does not cause allergies. It is pollinated by insects, and bees just love it. Try to count the bees and wasps in my photo!

Narrow leaf goldenrod
                                                                       Narrow leaf goldenrod

The culprit is the quiet, unassuming but sneaky ragweed. Lacy leaves and spikes of green flowers blend into the background and most people don’t even notice it. Yet it grows in your garden, curbside, wasteland areas and anywhere it gets a root hold and will take over. Unlike goldenrod, ragweed is wind pollinated and that is what causes your allergies…pollen grains drifting in on the breeze.

                                                 Ragweed growing in an empty corner lot

It can be tiny…

to giant…

Giant ragweed
                                                                                  Giant ragweed

My enthusiastic helper and model is 6′ 4″ tall.

Speaking of tall, goldenrod normally grows to approximately 3 – 4 feet tall but we found one over 6 feet!

                                                                                Tall goldenrod

Goldenrod can be a bit of a thug but there are a few cultivated varieties that you may find in the nursery that are somewhat better behaved. Nevertheless, it is easy to pull out if it spreads too much. Grow it with other vigorous fall blooming perennials like tall lilac asters for a colourful fall vignette. Both will feed the bees and butterflies as they prepare for hibernation or migration.

Goldenrod and fall aster
                                                                   Goldenrod with lilac aster

This is one showy native plant that is worthy of a place in your fall garden palette.

Happy Gardening 🙂



One thought on “Dispelling the Myth

  1. Both are known for their pollen here . . . but neither grow here. Native goldenrod is rare. Exotic goldenrod (that hopefully will not naturalize) is just now being introduced.


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