Plant of the Week: Solidago varieties


The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. This week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

In the American midwest, goldenrod is said to be a harbinger for students of the start of school in September. Here too, Solidago has bloomed just in time for Labor Day and the last few weeks of beach weather. With more than twenty species native to New York State, goldenrod's habitat spans the U.S., and has become a common sight in many other countries around the world as well. The High Line has six species in cultivation, with bloom times overlapping from late August through October. The showy flower-within-a-flower structure of its blooms, characteristic of the Aster family, spills up and out of swaths of grasses and creates quite a picture of plenty.

While many associate this burst of gold with miserable hay fever, it's actually ragweed that creates the majority of windblown pollen at this time of year; Solidago's pollen is too sticky and heavy to travel through the air, and as a result, it's mostly pollinated by insects ranging from wasps to butterflies. It's an important food source for honeybees, and for moth and butterfly larvae, which feed on the lanceolate leaves. Nectar admixtures combine to create the treat that is dark, flavorful goldenrod honey.

Originally, Solidago and other sun-loving native field plants appeared along rock outcrops, gravel bars, and stream beds, where forest canopy struggled to develop. It spreads aggressively by rhizome in sunny, disturbed areas and has become a problematic invasive in parts of Europe, where it is also popular in gardens. In the U.S., agricultural clearing that began with the Native Americans and increased with advances in farming technology has enabled goldenrod to become plentiful in once-wooded areas. In Japan, it appears most eerily growing in vast swathes in abandoned rice fields at of site the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Its history of interactions with industry also includes a stint as a major source of rubber, which Thomas Edison supplied to his friend Henry Ford for the wheels on his Model T.

PLANTING TIP
Seed lightly and once established specimens emerge, replant carefully at intervals of twelve inches. Self-seeds enthusiastically; rhizomes can be divided in spring. To prevent spread, remove flowerheads before seeds develop.

WHERE TO SEE THIS PLANT
Hudson River Overlook
Diller von-Furstenberg Sundeck and Water Feature
Northern Spur Preserve
Wildflower Field & Radial Plantings
Railtrack Walks
Interim Walkway

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects – become a member of the High Line today!


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