Photo left: Not guilty! Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) is often unjustly blamed for allergic reactions. This is because it's the same color and blooms at the same time as ragweed, to which many people really are allergic. Unlike ragweed, goldenrod has pollen so heavy that only an insect can move it from plant to plant. Like other insect-pollinated plants, goldenrod is unlikely to cause allergic reactions because its pollen is too heavy to be blown around by the wind (and into your nose). Some varieties of goldenrod are very attractive and make excellent additions to a pollinator-friendly flower garden.
IN HONOR OF NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK, here are some interesting facts collected from Fast Facts for Gardeners by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign:
- "About 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths.
- "Plants that depend on a single pollinator species, and likewise, pollinators that depend on a single type of plant for food (for example, fig wasps and fig trees or monarch butterflies and milkweed plants) are interdependent. If one disappears, so will the other."
- "Most species of bees don't sting. Although all female bees are physically capable of stinging, most bee species native to the U.S. are 'solitary bees,' that is, not living in colonies and don't sting unless they are physically threatened or injured."
- "A common misunderstanding is that hay fever is caused by goldenrod pollen. It isn’t! Goldenrods provide critical nourishment for butterflies, bees, other beneficial insects and birds, but don’t affect people with hay fever. Ragweed is the main offender and should be avoided."
- "A tiny fly no bigger than a pinhead is responsible for the world's supply of chocolate. Midges, tiny flies that live in damp, shady rainforests, are the only animals that can work their way through the complex cacao flower and pollinate it."