FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Solidago juncea is an upright unbranched perennial wildflower and is usually the earliest goldenrod to bloom. Leaves are alternate and lance shaped with small wing-like leaflets in the axils. Beginning in mid-summer for 4-6 weeks, stems are terminated with panicles of yellow flowers. The showy panicles have arching stems and a fountain-like form. Plants are tough and adaptable, prospering in sunny dry or mesic sites.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Solidago juncea occurs through eastern North America from Quebec to Florida and from Manitoba to Minnesota and south to Louisiana.
Indigenous plants occur in mesic to dry Blackland prairies, sand prairies, oak savannas, thickets, dry rocky upland woods. roadsides and disturbed fields.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 3-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Solidago juncea is an unbranched perennial with hairless green or reddish stems.
The leaves are mostly basal and up to 12” long and 2” wide. The blades have a long winged petiole.
The stem leaves are smaller and sessile. They are alternate and lance shaped or narrowly oval and up to 8” long and about 1½” wide. The blades have smooth, slightly toothed or ciliate margins and small wing like leaflets above the base.
From mid to late summer, stems terminate in golden flower panicles. The flowering stems arch upward and out from the stem like a fountain. Each flowering stem contains many ¼” yellow flowerheads. The heads have 4-12 ray florets surrounding a cluster of disc florets.
The florets mature into tiny achenes crowned by tufts of hair. Plants proliferate when the achenes are distributed by wind and offsets form from the underground rhizomes.
Plants grow 2-4’ tall with 2-3’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Solidago juncea thrives in sunny sites with moist soil. Plants tolerate part sun, drought and sandy, loamy, clay or gravelly soils.
This species is relatively pest free. Plants often spread aggressively in ideal moist sunny sites.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for a Wildlife Garden or Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Solidago juncea has Showy Blooms and can be used in Cottage Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders, Roadsides and Restoration Projects.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Solidago juncea with Aster umbellatus, Coreopsis major, Eupatorium hyssopifolium, Carex bicknellii, Liatris aspera, Monarda punctata, Rudbeckia triloba, Scutellaria incana or Sporobolus heterolepis.
If a substitute is needed, Solidago nemoralis has similar cultural needs.
TRIVIA: Native bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles and pollinating flies seek nectar and pollen from the flowers. Plants host the caterpillars of several moth species. Seed are eaten by songbirds like Eastern Goldfinch, Tree Sparrow and Swamp Sparrow. White-tailed Deer and Cottontail Rabbits graze on the foliage.
Solidago juncea is the earliest blooming goldenrod. This species can be distinguished from other prairie dwelling goldenrods like S. nemoralis due to its lack of stem and leaf hairs. The winged leaflets above the leaf axils are unique characteristics that help differentiate S. juncea from other Solidago spp. The broad spreading flower panicles of this species arch outward unlike Solidago speciosa and others that point upward.