New Hampshire to Pennsylvania.
Flower-heads: growing on stalks in a dense pyramidal raceme. Rays: six to seven, large, spreading. Leaves: lanceolate; thin; serrated. Stem: angled; smooth.
Many books might be written about the golden rods and the story then be only partly told. We know them as a brilliant family which gradually appear among us, sending up first green stems from their perennial roots, then opening sparingly a few buds; and before we can realise that they have returned to us, they have thrown out a mass of bloom that illuminates almost every field and waste corner. Their message to us is hardly as cheery as that of the skunk cabbage; for they bid us get ready for the winter, when everything is pale and cold and the wind soughs sadly through the trees. But they deliver it gaily and remain with us until they themselves are withered down to the ground by the frost.
In manner of growth they are very dissimilar, some forming heavy, dense racemes, as can be seen from the illustration of S. juncea, and others branching and sub-branching into light, feathery clusters; but to whatever variations they are subject, there is something about a golden rod that could never be mistaken for any other flower.
They are weeds, and with the exception of S. bicolor, a silvery, slender variety which grows on the borders of dry woods, yellow in colour. Of the attempts to cultivate them very few have been successful; they cling rather to the fields and waysides for their homes, where as true rods of gold they are a beautiful feature of the American autumn.
S. fistulosa, pine barren golden rod, is found, as its common name implies, in wet pine barrens, especially those of New Jersey and as far south as Florida. The leaves are sessile, lanceolate and rough. The small flower-heads grow on the recurved branches of panicles.
S. juncea, Plate LXIX, is a well-known golden-rod that is commonly found in dry soil along the roadsides and sometimes in more moist places. Its myriads of flowers with small rays grow in drooping, heavy panicles. The upper leaves are delicately coloured, narrow and entire. The lower ones are sharply toothed and have a distinctive mark in their fringed petioles. It is but seldom that the plant is found over two feet high.
In the deep woods spring is not proclaimed by the blasting of trumpets and the waving of gaudy banners. The inhabitants creep in softly and gravely and take their places; for the timid, the elfish, the proud and the solemn are all alike in their love of the silence and shadows of their home. They shrink from rather than attract the attention of passers by; and when seeking them we are impressed with the idea of intrusion. We are not invited to their revels. It is the buzzing bee, the singing birds and the bright little animals that make merry with them. And when they are sorrowful and the seasons are dark, so that gleams of sunshine come but feebly through the tree tops; the dripping moisture is Nature's lamentation with them.