|Photo: P.A. Woodliffe|
Features: Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) belongs to the distinctive group of wildflowers which produce showy, yellow flowers in late summer and early fall. In Canada, it grows in prairies, particularly under oaks in a habitat called the oak savannah. It prefers sandy soils and does not tolerate disturbance. The species varies geographically, and taxonomists have delineated three distinct varieties (or subspecies). The variety called rigidiuscula grows in Ontario, and it has narrow leaves that drop off of the base of the plant by late summer. As with other goldenrods, the flowers are a magnet for insects such as bees and butterflies that feed on nectar and pollen.
There are now two populations of Showy Goldenrod in Ontario. The Great Lakes Plains population of Solidago speciosa var. rigidiuscula on Walpole Island has been designated as endangered. A new population of Solidago speciosa was recently discovered in the Kenora area. Designated as the Boreal population, the variety has not yet been determined, and it has been listed as threatened.
Status: Endangered Provincially and Nationally
Range: The species is widespread in the eastern United States, ranging from New Hampshire west to Minnesota and Nebraska, and south to the Gulf states. The variety rigidiuscula occupies the western half of the species range on two sites at Walpole Island in the St. Clair River, Kent County, southwestern Ontario. The Boreal population, which consists of one site, is located near Kenora.
Threats: Originally, this species was likely restricted to the prairies of southwestern Ontario where it may never have been common. Although there is no direct evidence, it may have declined there as prairie habitat was converted to farmland and urban development. Today, the small remaining populations continue to be at risk from agriculture and housing development. One of the populations is within 50 metres of houses and a road.
Protection: As a provincially endangered species, Showy Goldenrod is protected by the federal Species at Risk Act and Ontario's Endangered Species Act. It is not easy to grow this species in nurseries, so it is unclear whether propagation for introduction to new, protected sites would be possible in the future.
Text Sources: COSSARO 2011; Zhang et al. 1998
Last Modified Date: July 2011
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