Plant of the Week
Ouachita Goldenrod (Solidago ouachitensis C.E.S. Taylor & R.J. Taylor)
By Susan Hooks
The Ouachita goldenrod is a perennial forb in the Sunflower family (Compositae). It has an un-branched upright leafy stem that ranges from 27- 47 inches. The leaf shape is elliptical and the leaves alternate along the stalk. The leave have no leaf stalk and vary in size (2-6 inches long and .4- 3 inch wide) with the largest at the middle of the stalk and smaller ones near the top. Leaves are dark green above and pale green below with coarsely toothed edges. Flower heads are yellow and form small clusters at the axis of the leaves. Flowers are usually found on the upper half of the stem. Flowering occurs in September and October and is pollinated by a variety of bugs and insects such as beetles, butterflies and bees.
The name goldenrod refers to the golden colored flowers which are formed on long stalks. There are many species of goldenrod found across the Unites States. The Ouachita goldenrod is an endemic plant which has a limited distribution to the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Although many species of goldenrod are found in open sunny fields and roadsides, the Ouachita goldenrod is most often found on shaded slopes in filtered sunlight. It occupies a variety of habitats but the most common habitat is mesic oak/hickory forests along steep north facing slopes. It can be found from the upper slopes to valley bottoms near streams.