Monday, September 14, 2009
GoldenRods More than Yellow Weeds
Goldenrods have sort of an undeserved bad reputation; an invasive weed and the cause of sneezes and watery eyes. Up front, though, it's ragweed which causes more headaches for allergy sufferers, golden rod is usually not the problem. Ragweed, which blooms at the same time, releases pollen in the air; goldenrod pollen is heavier and is more commonly moved around by insects.
Goldenrod does like to wander and can be seen as invasive. And goldenrod is sometimes just unaffectionately dubbed a weed (whatever that word means).
But the goldenrod has turned many meadows, fields, pastures and even road ditches a brilliant yellow, a traditional September event. It often blooms along with the purple asters, making for one of the best flower shows around.
Goldenrod is an amazing plant, so amazing that states such as Kansas, Nebraska and South Carolina elevated the “weed” to the honorary place of state flower.
Goldenrod is a large family. There are over 130 different species. The different species can be found in dry ground, bogs and swamps, just about anywhere.
Goldenrod is also the last chance or the last stop for many pollinators before the killing frosts. It provides high quality pollen and nectar, particularly important for honeybees and our native wild bees. Any goldenrod field is swarming with dozens of different insects. For some, it's an important plant for reproduction; several insects, including the Gall Fly need the goldenrod.
The Goldenrod Gall Fly is an amazing little bug which spends it's entire existence on the goldenrod. After the male picks out a suitable spot, the females comes along and the eggs are injected into the stem; eventually this form a gall or the round ball often seen on the goldenrod.
The eggs eventually hatch and the larvae live in their gall existence for about a year. Sometimes, a hungry woodpecker will find a good meal by cracking open the gall, poor larvae.
At one time, Thomas Edison thought the goldenrod was a good plant for homegrown rubber production. Tires were actually made from goldenrods and are still on display. But even before Edison began his rubber experiments, folk medicine had a lot of uses for the plant. It was generally brewed into a tea and used to treat many ailments particularly urinary tract infections.
Goldenrods are more than a field of yellow weeds. Learn about the goldenrod spider below in the Heck of It.
Buy a Book
Support your local, independent book store and local authors. Sam Hossler's fictional novels about the local northwest Pennsylvania region are based on historical fact can be found here. Sam lives in the Canadohta Lake area. Vincent di Fondi just published his first novel, Blessed Abduction. Vincent, who now lives in Costa Rica, is a frequent contributor here and a great writer. Click on the ad below.
Oat Harvest and Trouble in Agriculture
The ten acre field next to my yard was planted in oats last spring. The harvest just began yesterday, September13 just hours before sunset and will continue today. It was a poor harvest because of all the wet weather and cool conditions and even some of the field corn is not as good as it should be, according to Doug Meabon who planted the field and is a local dairy farmer.
Doug also said even his sweet corn crop suffered from the weather. It has not been a good year for agriculture. Milk prices remain low; the price being paid the farmer is the same as it was in the 1960's. They are loosing money and it is getting worse. Prices will likely rise but we could very likely loose some farms before better economic times arrive.
Support your local farms, buy local produce whenever possible.
Everyone is talking about the flu this year. Click the ad for the most up to date information. Eat healthy, wash your hands frequently and if you feel sick stay home. To date, this virus is just miserable but it could worsen. It's best to keep informed.
For the Heck of it:
I Told You there's one right over there! Another fascinating insect which can be found near the goldenrods is the goldenrod spider. Don't worry, it is not harmful to humans, but it does prey on other insects by crippling them with a powerful venom. This amazing insect can change colors from yellow to white to match it's environment.
There is a variety of white goldenrod. Click here for more information.
Good Blogs to read:
Vincnet di Fondi
On Your Way to the Top
New York's Southern Tier