Zigzag Goldenrod, the Lovable Thug
Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) may be a thug, but it’s a thug with good qualities, kind of like Tony Soprano from The Sopranos. (Though I know people with deeply opposing views on Tony’s character.)
There is a patch of Zigzag Goldenrod behind the Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) in a part of the back garden I refer to as the Thicket Corner. This is a wildish area that surrounds the Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila). Last Sunday Judy and I were sitting in the back sunroom when we noticed how the Zigzag was glowing in the afternoon light. It provided an enchanting vignette.
Zigzag is one of the Goldenrods that is happy in shade. It’s also relatively short (for a member of the genus Solidago), at about 2-3 feet tall. This means it can mix fairly comfortably with other native woodland plants, especially ephemerals.
It is also unusual for a Goldenrod in that the flowers zig and zag their way up the stem, which may be the origin of its common name. As with other Solidagos, the flowers are highly attractive to pollinators.
You can love Zigzag Goldenrod, but do not trust it. Keep it in naturalistic, uncultivated areas. Do not let it get close to any cultivated garden beds with rich soil.
That would bring out Zigzag’s dark side, just as certain opportunities always brought out the predator in Tony Soprano. Rhizomes will invade soft loam with frightening speed, and I am too squeamish to describe the aftermath.
Keep S. flexicaulis in its proper place and we can all be happy, and nobody gets hurt. Capisce?