Goldenrod's splash of yellow

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shown here is a natural bouquet of a native North American plant called goldenrod. The flowers of this plant are pollinated by insects. Its pollen is too heavy to be airborne for long or far. Although the seeds are light and dispersed by wind, goldenrod should not be blamed for causing "hay fever." Instead, another plant called ragweed which relies upon wind for pollination and blooms at the same time as goldenrod, is a major hay fever culprit. Goldenrod and ragweed often grow near one another.

Goldenrod is sometimes planted in flower gardens to provide a brilliant splash of yellow during late summer into autumn. Years ago goldenrod was introduced into Europe as a garden flower. Today it is considered an invasive species in Germany after reverting back to its wild state.

Native Americans chewed on parts of the goldenrod plant to combat sore throats and relieve toothaches. Our neighboring state of Kentucky claims goldenrod as its state flower.

This plant has an interesting place in history. Inventor Thomas Edison produced rubber from goldenrod. Later Edison's friend Henry Ford gave him a Model T that had tires made from goldenrod rubber. Edison's invention of rubber made from goldenrod eventually lead to production of synthetic rubber during World War II.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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