Taxonomic Changes for Regional Species of Goldenrod

 By Marion Lobstein

November 13, 2013

In my last article on modern taxonomic treatments, there was a discussion of how the taxonomy for our native “asters” has been radically altered. Taxonomic changes for our approximately 20 species of goldenrods are much less drastic. Only two of our 20 species have been reassigned from the genus Solidago to the genus Euthamia. The DNA evidence reveals that these genera are closely related but should be separate.

Linnaeus first applied the genus name Solidago in his 1753 Species Plantarum. In this work, Linnaeus included several of our native species as well as the European goldenrod Solidago virgaurea. In the 1762 edition of Clayton’s Flora Virginica, three of our native species were included. In 1818, Thomas Nuttall proposed Euthamia as a subspecies of Solidago, but in 1840 declared it as a distinct species. Asa Gray and John Torrey in 1842 transferred Euthamia back to Solidago, but by 1876 proposed Euthamia as a section of Solidago. By 1894, Edward Greene proposed Euthamia as a distinct genus. This battle of where to place Euthamia went back and forth. Arthur Cronquist, in the 1980 (2nd) edition of Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, separated these genera. A strange proposal was made in 1891 by Otto Kuntz, who contended that Solidago should be a subgenus of the genus Aster. Kuntz proposed to radically reorganize the taxonomy of Linnaeus, but his ideas were not widely accepted in the botanical community. It is ironic that recent molecular DNA studies have shown native asters to be more closely related to Solidago (goldenrods) and Erigeron(daisy fleabanes) species than the Eurasian asters!

There are some closely related genera to Solidago and Euthamia that are not in our area but are native to other parts of the U.S. If you would like more information on these genera, check out the “History of this Group” section of the Master’s thesis by Jessica Creech on various genera of goldenrods. There are some closely related genera to Solidagoand Euthamia that are not in our area but are native to other parts of the U.S.  If you would like more information on these genera, check out the “History of this Group” section of the Master’s thesis by Jessica Creech on various genera of goldenrods, found at:

History of Group,” in Comparative Leaf Anatomy in Solidago and Segregate Genera Brachychaeta, Brintonia, Chyrsoma, Oligoneuron, and Petrodoria (Compositae), by Jessica Creech, Kansas State University (1973). (Disregard the notations of this PDF copy being illegible, it is quite readable).

Other web sources you may want to explore:

“Classifications and Illustrations of Goldenrods,” by John C. Semple, University of Waterloo (2012)

“Solidago L.: Goldenrods,” by John C. SempleUniversity of Waterloo (2012)

“ITS sequence data support a single origin for North American Astereae (Asteraceae) and reflect deep geographic divisions in Aster s.l.” by Richard D. Noyes and Loren H. Rieseberg,American Journal of Botany 86, no. 3 (March 1999).

Below is a list of our regional species of goldenrods with name changes:

Solidago altissima (tall) -Tall goldenrod

S. arguta (sharp-tooth) -Cutleaf goldenrod

S. bicolor (two colors) –Silverrod

S. caesia (light blue) -Blue-stem or wreath goldenrod

S. curtisii (named for M.A. Curtis) -Curtis’ goldenrod

S. erecta (erect) -Slender goldenrod

S. flexicaulis (bent stem) -Zigzag goldenrod

S. gigantea (giant) -Late goldenrod

S. graminifolia (grass-leaved) [now Euthamia graminifolia -Grass-leaved goldenrod]

S. harrisii (named for Harris) -Shale-barren goldenrod

S. hispida (hairy) -Hairy goldenrod

S. juncea (rush-like) -Early goldenrod

S. nemoralis (from the woods) -Old field goldenrod

S. odora (having a smell) -Anise Scented Goldenrod

S. puberula (softly hairy or downy)-Downy goldenrod

S. racemosa (flowers borne in a raceme) -Riverbank goldenrod

S. randii (named for Rand) -Rand’s goldenrod

S. rigida (hard) -Hard-leaved goldenrod

S.roanensis (from Roan Mountain) -Mountain goldenrod

S. rugosa (rough) -Wrinkled-leaf goldenleaf

S. rupestris (living beside rocks) -rock goldenrod

S. speciosa (showy) -Showy goldenrod

S. squarrosa (infloresence at near 90 degree angle) -Stout goldenrod

S. tenuifolia (narrow leaved) [now Euthamia caroliniana] -Fragrant or narrow-leaved goldenrod

S. ulmifolia (elm-leaved) -Elm-leaved goldenrod