This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
This common rupestral plant is found in the North Temperate and Arctic Zones to-day in N. Temperate and Arctic Europe generally. It is unknown earlier than this, and is found in Asia eastward to the Himalayas, and America. In Great Britain it is absent from East Suffolk, Hunts, Carmarthen, S. Lancs, Mid Lancs, Stirling, North Aberdeen, and ascends to 2800 ft. in the Highlands.
Golden Rod is confined to wooded districts where there are perpendicular faces constantly covered with a stream of running water. This is its special stronghold, but it is to be found in the south in ditches by the roadside.
Golden Rod is a tall, graceful plant, erect, with few branches, with angular edges, rather rough. The leaves are lance-shaped, those at the base shortly stalked, elliptic, coarsely-toothed, with acute or blunt tips. Several stems grow in a clump, forming a fair sight when in bloom.
The beauteous golden bloom is abundant with the flowers arranged in panicled racemes, which are crowded and upright. The involucre is oblong, with several rows of bracts overlapping, with lance-shaped phyllaries. In the ray there are 10-12 florets, 10-20 in the disk -the former ligulate, the latter tubular. The bracts are linear-acute with membranous margins. The fruit is downy, with numerous ribs, and the pappus hairs in more than one row, rough.
The disk florets are like those of Chrysocoma, in which several capitula combine to form one surface, and so do not need ligulate marginal florets. Here they are placed on an elongated axis. The disk of each capitulum is 4-5 mm., and 5-7 golden marginal florets render it conspicuous, making it broader, or 14-19 mm.
The marginal florets have an enormously developed corolla, while the stamens are reduced or absent. The branches of the style have the sweeping hairs also reduced as useless, bearing stigmatic papillae on the inner surface along each margin throughout. There are female and complete flowers on the same plant. Pollen may drop from the upper flowers on those below. The Golden Rod is pollinated by Apis mellifica, Bombus rupestris, B. campestris, B. terrestris, Andrena, Eristalis arbustorum, E. nemorun, Thecla.
The fruit is provided with pappus, and the achenes are downy and many-ribbed, and adapted for wind dispersal.
Photo. Matson - Golden Rod (Solidago Virgaurea, L.)
A little fungus, Puccinia virgaureoe, infests it. Lepidoptera frequent it, such as The Cudweed (Cucullia gnaphilii) and The Star-wort (C. Asteris), The Golden-rod Brindle (Cloantha Solidaginis), Botys terrealis Homoeosoma nimbella, Coleophora virgaureoe, Lycoena virgaureoe, Guenee's Pug (Eupithecia pernotata), Common Pug (E. vulgata), Wormwood Pug (E. absynthiata), Pterophora tetradactylus, Dark Brocade (Hadena adusta).
Solidago, Brunfels, is from the Latin solidare, make whole or sound. Virgaurea, Mathiolus, is from the Latin virga, stem, aurea, golden.
Golden Rod has a few other names, such as Aaron's-rod, Banwort, Woundwort. The first was bestowed because it has a tall, straight stem, and is connected with Aaron because his rod, like his beard, is familiar from its mention in Scripture history.
This plant was formerly employed as a vulnerary. It is now planted in our gardens.
Essential Specific Characters: 151. Solidago Virgaurea, L. - Stem erect, sub-simple, sub-angular, leaves lanceolate, lower petiolate, serrate, flowerheads yellow, in terminal racemes, small, disk florets tubular, ray florets ligulate, fruit downy.
Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Hieracium Pilosella, L.)
Widely dispersed on hilly ground this pretty Hawkweed was quite an old-established species in the British Islands in the Glacial period. It is found in Interglacial beds at West Wittering, Sussex, and it is the only species of this large and polymorphic genus found in Britain so early. At the present day it occurs in the North Temperate Zone in Europe, N. Africa, North and West Asia. Mouse-ear Hawkweed occurs in all parts of Great Britain except the Shetlands, ranging elsewhere as far north as the Orkneys, and ascends to 2400 ft. in Yorkshire. It is native in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
This common Hawkweed is a xerophilous plant, growing usually on dry ground, at a more or less high altitude on hills and mountains, on sandy soil. It is fond of growing on rocky ledges, or where rocks crop out at the surface and are exposed by denudation. Similarly, walls are another suitable and frequent habitat. This Hawkweed is associated with Bird's Foot, Vernal Grass, and other rupestral types.