Solidago lepida (Western Goldenrod) - photos and description

Species is rhizomatous, a colony of S. lepida.

Leafy inflorescence example 1.

Leafy inflorescence example 2.

Leafy inflorescence example 3.

Stems with short, fine hairs.

Leaf underside; small hairs only on the nerves (and margins).

Above photo zoomed to maximum on computer. You can see longer hairs on the nerve. On leaf surface may be tiny glandular hairs; not visible with a 10x loupe.

Top of leaf appears hairless (as described in FNA).

Inflorescence in above photo, zoomed in to max in following photo.

Above photo zoomed to maximum on computer. On calyx may be tiny glandular hairs; not visible with a 10x loupe.

This species has large leaves among Goldenrods, measured to 14.5 cm long.

General: Tall perennial with single stems, a pyramidal inflorescence, and leaves 4x long as wide. Plants rhizomatous, stem is hairy with short, fine hairs, leaves glabrous on top surface, small hairs on the nerves on the top surface, and margins.

Note: this species and Solidago altissima have been split by taxonomists from Solidago canadensis. Solidago canadensis as now described is not found in Saskatchewan, grows in eastern and central Canada.

Flowers: Inflorescence is a pyramid-shaped panicle, the inflorescence is leafy. We measured a single flower at 4 mm diameter and 5 mm long, a panicle at 16 cm tall by 10 cm across. Minute glandular hairs can be found in the foliage of the inflorescence, so small that FNA states they can only be viewed with 30-70x magnification.

Leaves: Leaves are alternate and largest in the middle of the stem, sessile, lanceolate to elliptical, coarsely serrate. Leaf underside with small hairs only on the nerves (and margins); top of leaves more or less hairless. We measured a leaf mid-stem at 14.5 cm long by 3.2 cm wide.

Height: Height is listed in Flora of North America to 150 cm, we measured plants to 110 cm tall.

Habitat: Open woods, scrublands, and moist meadows. Dr. Semple of the University of Waterloo and author of the FNA treatment of S. lepida has published a North American range map for S. lepida (can be viewed on the U Waterloo link below). It shows S. lepida occurs in SK from the northern Parklands north to the Northwest Territories... north of a diagonal line from just south of Duck Mountain on the MB border west across SK to about Lloydminster on the AB border.

Abundance: Fairly common(?).

Origin: Native.

Similar species: Very similar to Solidago gigantea which is a taller goldenrod with a pyramidal inflorescence. However that species has glabrous stems, while the stems of Solidago lepida are pubescent.

Somewhat similar to Solidago mollis which is also a taller goldenrod with a pyramidal inflorescence. However that plant has leaves only 2-3x as long as wide, and is covered in fine hairs (puberulent) making its foliage velvety to touch and giving it a greyish-green appearance.

And, very similar to Solidago altissima which was split from Solidago canadensis along with Solidago lepida (the plant described on this page).

To distinguish between S. altissima and S. lepida (from the FNA key) it’s the hairiness of the leaves and leafiness of the inflorescence:

- S. altissima leaves moderately to densely villous or strigillose, sometimes more so on abaxial (leaf bottom surface) nerves... (leaves moderately or densely hairy).

- Solidago lepida leaves glabrous or sparsely villoso-strigillose, more so abaxially than adaxially (leaf top surface), especially along main nerves... (leaves hairless or sparsely hairy).

- The FNA species description of
S. lepida states its inflorescence usually leafy while the inflorescence of S. altissima is not described as leafy. We observed this with both species.

- S. lepida with leaves lower on stem to mid- stem having leaf top surface hairless, we observed this, too. S. altissima having leaf top surface with short, stiff hairs.

Also, S. lepida has varying degrees of minute glandular hairs in its inflorescence and upper leaves, however FNA states a 30x-70x magnification is needed to see them. We use a good 10x loupe and examined many flower heads  but couldn’t see any glandular hairs, I guess not enough magnification. So no help in identification.

Vascular Flora of Alberta states S. altissima "stems often with large (1-3 cm) insect galls, S. lepida stems rarely with galls". The day we photographed these plants we saw dozens of these Solidago plants, no galls on any stems, so no help.

S. canadensis is still described by taxonomists, but Dr. Semple of the U of Waterloo states S. canadensis as it's now described is not found in Saskatchewan, it is found in Eastern and Central Canada.

More information:

University of Waterloo Astereae Lab. (Dr. Semple of the Astereae Lab is one of the authors of the Solidago treatment in FNA).

Flora of North America (FNA).

When and where photographed: We took the above photos August 6th, boreal forest in Duck Mountain Provincial Park, about 300 km northeast of our home in Regina, SK.