Heralding the advent of the final, and most gorgeous floral pageant of the year, the monotoned Golden-rods literally romp over everything that is rompable from valley to peak. They form a most conspicuous and truly regal escort for their consorts, those bewildering hosts of starry Asters which, in eager haste, strive to overtake them. Thoreau wrote:
" The sun has shone on the earth, And the Golden-rod is his fruit. The stars, too, have shone on it, And the Asters are their fruit."
The Golden-rods may represent the main crop of the "sun's fruit," but surely the Dandelion and Buttercup, in fact a hundred others for that matter, of this cloth-of-gold, are entitled to some consideration in this conclusion. The Golden-rod is so very well and familiarly known that it requires little, if any, introduction. There are upward of eighty species, perhaps more, in the United States, and besides, there are many hybrids - intergrades - which make them extremely difficult to distinguish as distinct species. We Americans hold a certain natural affinity toward this purely native-bred beauty, and it is pretty generally conceded to be the favourite for our national flower. It has already been adopted as the State flower of Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, and Nebraska. The scientific generic name, Solidago, signifies to join, or make whole, and alludes to the healing qualities, which this plant was formerly supposed to possess, when applied to wounds. One hundred year ago the Golden-rod was regularly exported to China, where it commanded a high price. Sheep will forage upon it. Golden-rods grow in greatest profusion, and are exceedingly socialistic; numerous species occurring in the same community. Casual observers, however, seldom realize that several widely differing species invariably make up the various masses of yellow, which they pass afield or by the wayside, as Golden-rod. Time and again I have amazed those whom I have accompanied out of doors during September, by calling their attention to the number of different varieties of Golden-rod about them. F. Schuyler Matthews records finding no less than fifteen well defined species within a quarter-mile length of road in New Hampshire. As the flower clusters fade they become hoary, and the seeds, tipped with fine, feathery hairs, somewhat after the manner of the Dandelion seeds, are wafted by the winds in every direction. During the winter when other food is scarce, the seeds of the Golden-rod are sought by the goldfinch and song sparrow. The following species are most likely to be found growing more or less commonly throughout our range, and they will become a satisfactory group about which to establish other species, which are sure to be found most everywhere. All have yellow flowers excepting one, which is called Silver-rod, from its white or cream-coloured spikes.