Description & Overview

Stiff Goldenrod is a native perennial typically found in prairies, roadside ditches, pastures, and hillsides in Wisconsin. Its leaves are stiff and rough-textured, hence the name. Golden-yellow flowers are showy, and a welcoming sight for migrating pollinators and songbirds, especially later in the year when most other flowers begin to fade.

The botanical name may have been previously known as Oligoneuron rigidum.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 1-5 feet

Mature Spread: 1-2 feet

Growth Rate: Perennial

Growth Form: Upright, naturalizes

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Site Requirements: Dry-average, sandy-loam soil

Flower: Yellow, 3/8", flat-topped flower cluster

Bloom Period: July – Oct

Foliage: Gray-green, basal, and alternating up sturdy stems, 3-8" long, stem and 10" leaves are hairy and clasp the stem.

Fall Color: Yellow

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Dry seed, 2mm, with white tufts of hair for wind dispersal

Suggested Uses

Stiff Goldenrod is highly tolerant of clay, rocky, sandy, or loamy soils. A decent tolerance for salt in the soil makes it successful in urban settings; however, they reseed freely and easily. If this is not a desirable trait then they can be deadheaded after flowering.

Pollinator/Butterfly Gardens: As a late bloomer, Stiff Goldenrod benefits many pollinators by providing nectar and pollen that is desperately needed before winter. The Goldenrod species are truly life savers!

Restoration: Goldenrod is tolerant of many situations including deer activity, making it a great choice for a restoration project. Its ability to self-seed helps to displace exotics and invasive species.

Cut flowers: Goldenrod of any kind makes a wonderful cut flower, both fresh and dried, adding long-lasting color, texture, and height to arrangements.

Wildlife Value

Stiff Goldenrod seeds are abundant, with most consumed by insects prior to dispersal. Eastern Goldfinches also love the seeds and the sturdy stems make a great perch to enjoy their meal. The Wisconsin Threatened Greater Prairie Chicken will also munch on the seeds.

Goldenrod in general is wonderful for providing pollinators with nectar, but Stiff Goldenrod is especially so. Black-and-yellow Lichen moth (Lycomorpha pholus), Edwards’ Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii), Bog Fritillary (Boloria eunomia), Common Branded Skipper (Hesperia comma), White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m album), Striped Hairstreak (Satyrium liparops), Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene), Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), and more visit for nectar.

Migrating Monarch butterflies benefit greatly from Stiff Goldenrod’s later blooming time.

Stiff Goldenrod is a larval host plant for a significant number of moths including Solidago Eucosma (Eucosma cataclystiana), Goldenrod Gall moth (Epiblema scudderiana), Goldenrod Borer Plume moth (Hellinsia kellicottii), Tufted Apple-bud moth (Platynota idaeusalis), Ruby Tiger moth (Phragmatobia fuliginosa), Confused Eusarca (Eusarca confusaria), White-spotted Sable moth (Anania funebris), The Asteroid (Cucullia asteroids), Dark-spotted Palthis (Palthis angulalis), Brown-hooded Owlet (Cucullia convexipennis), Speyer’s Hooded Owlet (Cucullia speyeri), Black Blister Gall Midge (Asteromyia caronifera), Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata), White-dotted Groundling (Condica videns), Common Tan Wave (Pleuroprucha insulsaria), Blackberry Looper moth (Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria), Beautiful Phaneta moth (Phaneta formosana), and more.

Planting Stiff Goldenrod will guarantee a host of visitors to your landscape!

Maintenance Tips

Goldenrods reseed readily, and this one is no exception. Remove seed heads if control of spread is a concern.

Do not fertilize. Overly fertile soil will cause the stems to flop over.

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes

Powdery mildew will affect plants if there is not enough air circulation. Thinning the population will help to increase air flow.

There is conflicting information as to whether Stiff Goldenrod is subject to heavy deer and rabbit browsing. While nothing seems to be definitive, we assume browsing is more common earlier in the season when the leaves and shoots are still tender.

Leaf Lore

The genus name Solidago comes from the Latin word ‘solido’ meaning to “make whole” and ‘ago’ in reference to the reputed healing properties. The specific ephithet rigida means rigid in reference to its strong stems.

Many unfairly blame goldenrods as a cause for allergies. The fact is the goldenrod pollen is not wind-borne and is not the culprit. #itsnotgoldenrod

The Chippewa, among other tribes, used varieties of goldenrod as an external application for cramps, fever, as a stimulant, to treat pulmonary issues, to ease labor pains, and as a treatment for colic, toothaches, and for burns. www.naeb.brit.org

The Meskwai used goldenrod as a smudge directed up the nose to revive an unconscious patients.

The Omaha used goldenrod as an indicator of corn ripening. When they were on the summer buffalo hunt, the sight of the goldenrod indicated to them that their corn was beginning to ripen at home.

Companion Plants

When planted in a native prairie restoration project options include Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata), Sweet Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Stiff Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata), Wild Senna (Cassia hebecarpa), Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Blue Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), and Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum) to name only a few.

For intense color combinations, consider pairing with Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata), Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Willowleaf Amsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana), Heavy Metal Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’), Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Kodiak Orange Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla x ‘G2X88544’ PP27,548), Delphinium (Delphinium spp), and Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis).

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Written by Beth DeLain