Houghton’s goldenrod

Solidago houghtonii 

Common Name: Houghton’s goldenrod

  • Attractive, native plant that thrives in full sun.
  • Listed as a threatened species by both the state and the federal government.
  • Flowers in August and September.

Native or Invasive: Native perennial

Characteristics: Houghton’s goldenrod is characterized by flat-topped flower heads with yellow ray flowers. The plant arises from a stubby, vertical, woody underground stem that is 8-20 inches tall. It has many fibrous roots.

The number of flower heads on the blossom can be as few as 10, or as many as 200. Stem leaves tend to be sparse. The ray flowers of Houghton’s goldenrod tend to be longer than in other goldenrods and are often quite noticeable, although still quite small. There are small but rough hairs in the flower.

Generally it is only found in Michigan, along the northern shores of Lake Michigan and Lakes Huron, though some reports indicate it may also be found in New York.

Habitat: Damp, sandy shores, low dunes, fens, swales and sometimes between rocks and cobbles on the beach in thin soil.

Fun Fact: Many people falsely believe that goldenrod causes hay fever. Goldenrods bloom at the same time as less conspicuous ragweed flowers that cause the itching and sneezing. Goldenrod pollen is actually too heavy to be carried on the wind. Instead, it is carried by the insects that pollinate the flowers and does not spread through the wind to allergy sufferers.

Ethnobotanical Uses: None listed, but other goldenrods have been used as a poultice for rattlesnake bites, a salve for burns and a tea for cramps. The flowers are also used to make a yellow dye.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.