Nature Notes – Issue 11

Goldenrod Abound

by Jill K. McDonald
Goldenrod glory, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

As we’ve turned the page on our calendars into September, I can’t help but notice the changes underway in the great outdoors – all signs are slowly, but surely, pointing toward autumn. It’s kind of funny actually that on September 1st the air was distinctly cooler in the morning when I stepped out my front door, compared to the humidity that was holding on just the day before here in southwest Michigan. Although I cherish warm summer days, I greatly notice seasonal changes and do my best to appreciate the joys of every season. Here’s sharing one thing that definitely caught my attention as August turned to September. 

This deep yellow flower is stunning among roadsides, in fields, and in prairies. It has just begun to bloom in several varieties and will be sharing it’s beauty well into late autumn. However it is often misunderstood and blamed for people’s allergies, but it is not the villain. 

Goldenrod is insect pollinated, relying on insects to move and transfer the pollen so the plant can make seeds, as insects come to the flowers for their meal of sweet nectar. It’s a very important food source for insects in autumn, especially as other flowers begin to fade away. 

One big culprit of seasonal allergies is a plant known as ragweed. It blooms at the same time as goldenrod, blends in and hides among other plants as it’s all green in color, and unfortunately is wind pollinated. 

So as the autumn breeze blows, ragweed pollen is being carried in the air in order to hopefully land on another ragweed plant to make seeds. So as you breathe the fresh air and perhaps sneeze like crazy, you may see beautiful goldenrod and figure it’s the culprit. As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

When you’re outside walking or driving around, perhaps take time to notice the beauty of goldenrod. If you see this flower up-close, notice all the different kinds of insects that are on just one plant, it’s wild sometimes! Of course, give space to the insects and be kind. May you take delight in seeing the beauty amongst the changes in every season.

Goldenrod glory, Photo by Jill K. McDonald

Jill K. McDonald is a freelance nature & travel educator, writer, photographer, and speaker. She can be reached by email at or connect with her on Facebook at:

%d bloggers like this: