Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wildflower Wednesday: Zigzag Goldenrod

Our Wildflower Wednesday star is Solidago flexicaulis also known as zigzag goldenrod or broadleaf goldenrod. It's a rhizomatous (creeping rootstock) perennial that is native to rich woods and thickets from Nova Scotia to North Dakota south to Georgia and Arkansas.

Zigzag goldenrod is my favorite goldenrod. As regular readers know I love take care of themselves, rough and tumble, colonizing wildflowers with great wildlife value and this goldenrod fits the bill! Plants are tough and adaptable prospering in part sun or part shade and in moist well drained soil and more importantly, they're superfood for insects.
woodland ex-asters are great companion plants

According to the Wild Seed Project (wildseedproject.net) “Asters and goldenrods attract loads of late season pollinating insects. In the wintertime, they provide food and habitat for many birds and small animals that feast on the seeds and find shelter in the dried stalks."
the little bees rely on goldenrods, too

Research by entomologist Doug Tallamy of University of Delaware lists asters (Symphyotrichum) and goldenrods as the wildflowers that support the most species of butterflies and moths. That's why I have a lot of them in my garden.

It really is a perfect plant for all our woodland gardens. In spring and summer the finely-serrated oval leaves and zig zagging stems jazz up a shady garden.
By late summer the brilliant golden flowers that emerge from the leaf axils are glowing.
bright yellow ray and disk florets
As mentioned earlier, they're blooming just in time for the hardworking bees that are provisioning their nests for winter survival or for Monarch butterflies gathering nectar for energy on their migration south.
landing pads of deliciousness 
Named for the way the stems zig and zag, this is a great plant for adding color and interest to the late fall woodland.
wind dispersed seed
After all that pollinator action the flowers give way to seeds, which are fluffy achenes that are easily   distributed by the wind or mammals passing through the woodland. I've dispershed my share of them, too. Please don't cut those seedheads off; the seeds are needed by chickadees, finches and pine siskins during the winter.

By mid to late fall the leaves and stems turn a brilliant deep burgundy. The leaves persist until the winter winds blow them away.

There are many good reasons to NOT shy away from this delightful woodland goldenrod. For one thing it is not the cause of hayfever. The pollen grains are heavy and not wind dispersed, so nothing from this plant is going to get into your nose. The most important reason to add this to your garden is for it's fantastic wildlife value. It's so important I've mentioned it over and over again in this post. If you need more reasons, consider its good looking flowers, the zig-zag stems and its delightful bold fall color. Now, contact your local native plant nursery and put your order in for seeds or plants! You won't be sorry and the bees and other critters will thank you by showing up in your garden.


The Particulars

Solidago flexicaulis
Common Name: broad leaf goldenrod, Zig-zag goldenrod
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Eastern North American
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to October depending upon where
Bloom Description: Bright golden yellow
Sun: Part sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Soil: acid, neutral, rich, average, loam, clay
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy Attracts: Butterflies, bees, other pollinators
High wildlife value: For a complete list of bees, moth and insects that visit this plant go here
Tolerates: Deer, Heavy Shade, Clay Soil
Comments: Can colonize/naturalize to make a nice ground cover in moist shade. Naturalize. Excellent for shady wildflower garden
Companion plants: Woodland ex-asters, Solomon’s plume, wild geranium, Pennsylvania sedge, hepatica, trillium, violets and Hydrangea arborescens

Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if your wildflower is in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. I love zig zag goldenrod. Even the name makes me smile.

    1. It's my favorite. It has lots of great characteristics.

  2. Beautiful photos!
    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Hello Gail ! .. I am also terrible about visiting blogs myself so no worries there, but I have you on my blog roll so that .. hum? softens the guilt trip a little perhaps ? LOL
    I am in love with our photos !! they are stunning ! .. I also love how you labeled the photo with all the information of what was going on with the plant .. now how cute a name could you have with "zig zag" ? .. Hey, thanks for stopping by .. I have to poke myself to do more visits as well .. with winter coming I should be more organized ? LOL
    Take Care !
    PS .. let me know what kind of camera you are using and what lens, when you have time ?

  4. I love your wildflower Wednesdays! So, this one is NOT for full sun? I must try the Asters & Goldenrod combination. I did not know it was so famous! First I heard of it was in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book. Beautiful.

    1. I am so glad you like my WW posts! That means a lot to me. It's a wonderful plant and I like that it blooms at the same time the woodland ex-asters are blooming.

  5. Great photos. I have lots of this goldenrod, it's great for shade.

  6. Today's hike was lots of flowers all heaving with pollinators - you would love it!

  7. Your leaves are different, softer - but the little yellow daisies could so easily be one of our plants.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson