Tissue? I Hardly Even Know You!

A lot of people are sneezing and coughing these days and goldenrod often gets the blame.  Folks say, “Oh, the goldenrod is out right now,” whenever anyone so much as waves a hanky. Since goldenrod is bright yellow and there is tons of it in bloom you can’t really fault the logic. But there is an inconspicuous culprit who is really to blame. goldenrodHow maligned the goldenrod is!  The real guilty party is ragweed, a ubiquitous and undistinguished-looking plant. Easy to overlook, it is the covert cause of suffering for many.  Goldenrod is a noticeable late-summer and early fall plant. Its cheery color makes up for the fact that it signals the waning of summer. But that brilliance gets attention and so the plant becomes a scapegoat for the riot of rhino-misery that occurs at this time of year. Ragweed serenly flies under the blame radar since it just blends in with grass.

Goldenrod has taken advantage of the land use trends of the last 350 years or so.  In the earliest era, most of the landscape was forested.  But as land was cleared, goldenrod moved in.

It can be vexing.  There are fifteen or more native to New England, and they look enough alike to confound efforts to identify them individually.  Plus there are hybrids!  Not to say identification is impossible.  There is a  great article on the Connecticut Botanical Society website, with a “key” to suss out individual plants.

The fact is, the reproductive habit of goldenrod eliminates it as a hayfever culprit.  Pollen is the enemy of allergy sufferers, and early spring begins the season as flowers begin blooming.  Mid-summer is a time of relative relief, when the riot of bloom tapers off. Come fall goldenrod makes such a showy display it is blamed for the return of the rhino-catastrophe affecting so many. Ragweed hides behind its plain Jane coloration.  Few suspect its virulent effect on the allergic.

Goldenrod is a tidy plant.  It “self-pollinates” because its pollen is sticky.  Resultingly, the pollen drops into the middle of flowers on the same plant without blowing around to those nearby. The pollen doesn’t travel all.  It just blankets its own flower with reproductive potential, quietly keeping its sexual adventures to itself.

On the the other hand, ragweed is a  trollop.  It spews its pollen around with  each puff of wind.  The pollen from the  individual plants fly around fertilizing all   the other ragweeds.   It releases huge clouds of pollen.  You know what that means:  Mass suffering. Ingestion of  antihistimines and  nose   sprays.   Enrichment of allergists.

Whether or not you are an allergy sufferer, it’s nice to appreciate the other late summer plants like goldenrod and the many asters that begin to bloom now.  Take your allergy   medicine and learn to identify ragweed and other early fall plants.  Baneberry is fun to    look at with it’s small white globes and black dots giving it a fall name of “doll’s eyes”.

And there are so many more and to see and enjoy. They don’t all make you sneeze.
.
We musn’t accuse a plant for something it didn’t and can’t do.  Goldenrod is more to be enjoyed than censured. Tell your friends.  And pass the tissues, please.

See you on the trails,
Diane Tucker, Estate Naturalist

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9 Responses to “Tissue? I Hardly Even Know You!”

  1. Tissue? I Hardly Even Know You! « Hill-Stead's Nature Blog Says:

    […] Tissue? I Hardly Even Know You! « Hill-Stead's Nature Blog […]

  2. hillsteadnatureblog Says:

    Thanks for the ping. Can I return the favor?

  3. Bridget Willard Says:

    Nice defense for goldenrod. The jury finds her innocent.

  4. Debt Settlement Says:

    Sorry for my bad english. Intresting title. It attracted me to read the complete post. Thanks

  5. Bill Bartmann Says:

    I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read…:)

    -Bill-Bartmann

  6. hillsteadnatureblog Says:

    Thank you for your VERY kind words. They mean a lot to me. Warm Regards, Diane

  7. Bill Bartmann Says:

    I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read.. 🙂

    -Bill-Bartmann

  8. Tony Brown Says:

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    A definite great read..Tony Brown

  9. Elbert Marsell Says:

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