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Goldenrods, glorious flowers of the American fall, have suffered from bad press due to the mistaken belief that they cause hay fever and the fact that a few can become weedy when brought into the garden. Since most of the 130 or so species found in the wild cross-pollinate with ease, the plants described are unspecified hybrids. The genus name is from the Latin solidare, "to join," and refers to reputed healing properties.

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Description of goldenrod: Goldenrods are strong-stemmed plants, often growing to 6 feet tall, with either smooth or lightly toothed alternate leaves arising from a root crown or rhizome. They bloom in late summer or fall with sprays of small, usually golden-yellow flowers. Ease of care: Easy.

: Goldenrods are happy in full sun or partial shade with good, well-drained garden soil. They will also do well in moist conditions.

: By division in spring or by seed.

: Great for the wild garden, stream side, or naturalized in meadow gardens, goldenrods are striking in the open bed or border. They are excellent for cutting.

elated species: Solidago flexicaulis, zigzag goldenrod, has wiry stems that bend back and forth at the nodes and flowers that are carried along the upper third of the stem. Variegata has foliage splashed with gold. S. odora, sweet goldenrod, has smooth lance-shaped, anise-scented foliage and one-sided flower clusters. S. rigida, stiff goldenrod, is a tall, leafy goldenrod with broad flat flower clusters, fuzzy stems, and large-leaved basal rosettes.

S. rugosa, rough-stemmed goldenrod, is aptly named for its airy flower clusters with arching branches spread over erect, leafy stems. Fireworks lights up the late-season garden like a fiery explosion with linear sprays. S. spacelata is a creeping goldenrod with paddle-shape leaves and branched inflorescences like exploding yellow fireworks. Golden Fleece is only 12 inches tall and is quite floriferous.

elated varieties: Golden Mosa has golden-yellow flowers on 2- to 3-foot stems. Cloth of Gold has golden-yellow flowers, while Crown of Rays bears yellow flowers; both are on 18-inch stems. Laurin bears bright yellow flowers on 16-inch stems, and Golden Dwarf has bright yellow blossoms on 1-foot stems.

Scientific name of goldenrod: Solidago hybrids

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