Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Dry to medium
Flowering period: July to October
Host plant for 122 caterpillar species
A fair-flowered maverick among a famously golden clan, white goldenrod offers all of the wildlife benefits typical of other goldenrods, but with an added dash of individuality. This pale white wildflower’s upright columnar shape is one of four goldenrod shapes encountered in Ohio, and it seems the one most fitting for a plant with a stand-alone spirit. Try as it might to go its own way, though, it seems that Ohio’s only white goldenrod just can’t help drawing a crowd! Throughout its late summer blooming period, white goldenrod attracts an adoring plethora of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, and wasps. In recognition of the plant’s importance to these organisms, the Xerces Society has designated it as a plant of special value to native bees, as well as one that supports conservation biological control. The latter designation indicates that white goldenrod attracts predators of insects that can be detrimental to food gardens and crops, thus providing an important non-chemical means of pest management. Part of the reason that white goldenrod is attractive to such a wide range of insects is that its shallow flowers offer nectar that is accessible to both short-tongued and long-tongued pollinators. In all, white goldenrod and other goldenrods have been found to support over 430 insect species.
A plant of open-canopied oak woodlands, sandy ridges, and rocky bluffs, white goldenrod’s ability to thrive on thin, dry soils has actually made it a plant of interest in the construction of green roofs. In the garden, white goldenrod attains a height of 2-3’, and grows well in soils that range from average moisture to dry, and under light conditions spanning open sunlight to partial shade.
Photo by Fritz Flohr Reynolds.