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Use native prairie wildflowers to lend color to your garden through early November. Leave the stems, seeds and pods intact in the winter to add beauty and provide food for animals. Native wildflowers are resistant to cold and drought and are rarely attacked by disease and insects. They are perennials that you can enjoy year after year without having to provide them with much care.
goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
Photo © 2008, Adele Hodde, IDNR Office of Public Services. Photo rights available for purchase.
There are many species of goldenrods native to Illinois. They grow in prairies as well as disturbed areas. Their smooth stems are generally unbranched, except for those species where branches form at the top of the stem. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem. Leaves are narrow, pointed at the tip, stiff and lack a stalk. The small, golden yellow flowers develop in large clusters at the stem tip. Flowers appear from August through September and may last until November if conditions are favorable. The dense roots of these plants help to hold the soil in place. Soldier beetles are attracted to these plants. They carry the sticky pollen from plant to plant as they feed on the flowers. As goldenrod pollen is carried by insects and not by wind, it is not a cause of hay fever, although that misconception persists.
For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, the following publications are available through the IDNR order form at www.dnr.illinois.gov/publications.
Prairie Establishment and Landscaping
Landscaping for Wildlife