Content Detail

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Arching, Vase-shaped
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Birds, Butterflies, Insect pollinators
  • More information

    Elm-leaved goldenrod has arching sprays of upright yellow flowers that top stems with elm like leaves from late summer to early fall. This perennial prefers well-drained soils with average moisture in full to partial sun. It is a lanky addition to cottage gardens, native gardens, pollinator gardens, woodlands, or naturalized prairies. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

Size and method of spreading:

At maturity, elm-leaved goldenrod is between 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. It spreads by producing offsets from underground stem structures (rhizomes).

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

The native range for elm-leaved goldenrod includes the Eastern and Central United States. C Value: 5.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Elm-leaved goldenrod attracts a variety of bees including andrenid bees, halictid bees, dagger bees, leaf-cutter bees, masked bees, minor bees, and plasterer bees. It also attracts birds such as eastern goldfinches, ruffed grouse, slate-colored juncos, and tree sparrows. Butterflies, flies, and wasps visit elm-leaved goldenrod for the nectar. 

Leaf description:

This species is named for its elm-like leaves. Elm-leaved goldenrod produces leaves that reduce in size as they ascend the stems. The bottommost leaves are ovate or elliptical with winged stalks (petioles) and have typically fallen from the stem by the time elm-leaved goldenrod flowers. The upper leaves are more lance-shaped (lanceolate) and attach directly to the stems (sessile) or have short petioles. The edges of the leaves have coarse teeth (serrate margins). The upper surfaces of the leaves are medium green, hairless (glabrous), or covered in short, sparse hairs (pubescent). The lower surfaces of the leaves are lighter green and mostly glabrous except for hairs along the main veins. 

Flower description:

Elm-leaved goldenrod produces small, yellow flower heads that are directed upwards in dense clusters along an arching stem. The flower heads are composites of petal-like ray flowers surrounding a center of small disk flowers. The three to six ray flowers and four to seven disk flowers are yellow and surrounded by three to four layers of small, leaflike bracts. The flower heads have individual stalks (peduncles) and mature from the bottom of the branched, arched stems (panicles). 

Fruit description:

Elm-leaved goldenrod has small dry fruits (achenes). These are tipped with tufts of hair that help distribute the fruit via the wind.

Plant Care:

To reduce the probability of fungal issues, provide proper spacing between plants and maintain adequate air circulation near elm-leaved goldenrod. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Minor insect pests of elm-leaved goldenrod include aphids, the goldenrod lace bug (Corythucha marmorata), leaf beetles, leafhoppers, moth caterpillars, various plant bugs, stink bugs, and treehoppers. Some species of wild birds, deer, and rabbits may also feed on the foliage of elm-leaved goldenrod. Minor issues with leaf spot, powdery mildew, and rust can also affect elm-leaved goldenrod. It can tolerate slightly drier than average soils and short periods of drought.


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