ORRIN MORRIS: Goldenrod often mistaken as cause of hayfever



The nouns and adjectives people use to describe or identify each other are usually judgmental. Both good and bad names may be based on many things from a kind gesture to a coarse remark laced with profanity; from a generous gift (a jewel) to a discarded object (a rag bag); from a humble attitude (modest) to boisterous bragging (arrogant stuffed-shirt).

The wise king in Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

The counsel is worth repeating at this time of political and economic upheaval, “…to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” The word “gold” leads us to today’s wildflower.



There are at least five varieties of goldenrod that have been present along our roadsides this past fall. The dried structures remain as ghosts on frosty winter mornings. From an artistic perspective, their sparkling presence is fascinating as they continue to remind us of the brilliant golden blankets that adorned our countryside.

The Canada goldenrod (solidego canadensis) is the tallest one in the sketch. It may grow up to six feet and its blooms cover lateral panicles that form a pyramidal crown. Its stems were reddish brown.

The tall species to the right is showy goldenrod (solidego speciosa). It, too, has a pyramidal shape but with many more closely knit panicles of flowers as in the center of the sketch. Sometimes its shape is more like a football. It is also distinguished from the Canada goldenrod by whitish green stems.

A third species in the area is wrinkleleaf goldenrod (solidego rugose). It is a shorter variety rarely reaching more than 4 feet high. Its blooms generally appear on one to three panicles. It is similar to the gray Goldenrod (solidego nemoralis), often nestled beneath the larger varieties.

It frequently reminds the viewer of a grass with goldenrod blooms along the top of the 2- to 3-foot single yellow-green stem. The gray refers to the underside of the very small leaves.

Goldenrod’s reputation suffers from its association with the most irritating fall cause of hay fever, the cursed ragweed. Both often share the same habitat and thus goldenrod is viewed negatively.

The truth is, goldenrod has been valued for centuries in many wildflower gardens of Europe. Old clumps are dug up and divided in the spring to enhance the fall beauty of the gardens.

One last note, Canada goldenrod is the state wildflower for Alabama, roundleaf goldenrod for Kentucky, and giant goldenrod for Nebraska.

There is an important lesson in these goldenrods. The friends we pick can communicate a lot about the kind of person we are: elitist or modest, profane or godly, dishonest or truthful.

Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center Street in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.