Wildflower identification question!

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DeeAnna

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I live in the country and my "back yard" is basically a 10-20 foot strip of weedy grass at the bottom of a steep wooded valley. I see a lot of wildlife and wild plants (aka weeds!), and it's fun to learn more about them.

I'm having poor luck figuring out what this plant is. I didn't notice its flowers this summer, but the clusters of 4-5 large black berries dangling in a tidy row are hard to miss this fall. The plant is a single curving stalk about 3 1/2 feet tall with alternating strap-like leaves. (The dog is Gypsy, my German Shorthair Pointer, doing her best Vanna White imitation.)

It could be a feral garden plant, but it could just as likely be a wildflower that's native to the Midwestern USA.

Anyone know what this fellow is? Your help is much appreciated!

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DeeAnna

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Here's another surprise I've found in my back yard this fall. I think this is blue stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia) although the stems don't look bluish to me. The bees are eagerly visiting the sweetly fragrant sprays of tiny flowers. This plant seems to like partial shade along the edges of the trees, while the more common tall goldenrod much prefers full sun.

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DeeAnna

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lenarenee

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How did you dig that up lsg? I wouldn't have know how to start!

I wonder it's this plant is related to Lily of the valley; the leaves have a similar shape and pattern (with the lines going down the leaves) plus the flowers grow on an arched stem, although not hanging from the leaf.
 

DeeAnna

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Well, Lenarenee, you aren't too shabby at making obscure connections either! A little googling shows you are right:

"...Close examination of the giant Solomon’s seal reveals many similarities to its diminutive relative, lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). Despite the difference in their sizes, both of these woodland-dwelling spring bloomers produce gently arching stems beneath which are suspended tiny bell-like flowers. Both also tend to grow into colonies...."
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3697
 

DeeAnna

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Goldenrod gets a lot of bad press, because it has the bad habit of blooming at the same time ragweed blooms AND goldenrod blooms are showy while ragweed blooms are almost invisible. Turns out goldenrod pollen is sticky and heavy, since goldenrod is pollinated by bees and other flying insects and sticky pollen travels better on tiny bee feet. Ragweed is pollinated by the wind, so its pollen is light and dry -- just right to travel alllllll overrrrr. It's actually ragweed that's the real culprit for the worst fall allergies.

Edit: But I see even the Zyrtec website shows goldenrod on the page "five-facts-about-ragweed". If this company can't get it right, small wonder that everyday folks blame goldenrod for their hay fever miseries!



Here is a side by side comparision:


Source: https://localtvwqad.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/goldenrodvsragweed.png?
 
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lsg

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How did you dig that up lsg? I wouldn't have know how to start!

I wonder it's this plant is related to Lily of the valley; the leaves have a similar shape and pattern (with the lines going down the leaves) plus the flowers grow on an arched stem, although not hanging from the leaf.
In my former life, I was a school librarian. I love research.:)
 

lenarenee

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In my former life, I was a school librarian. I love research.:)
Oh wow! School librarians are hard to find any more and that's such a crying shame because they were the best resource for connecting kids with books they would love.

There was a private bookstore at a mall in Maryland that was staffed with school librarians part time. And I went to them many, many times and could say "I have a 7 year old boy who is a reluctant reader, what would you suggest?" and their advice was spot on every time!

I've been called the "book whisperer" in my profession because I've gotten good at working with kids who hate to read or can't be enticed away from video games. But I owe that to the experience of school librarians!
 

lenarenee

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Well, Lenarenee, you aren't too shabby at making obscure connections either! A little googling shows you are right:

"...Close examination of the giant Solomon’s seal reveals many similarities to its diminutive relative, lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). Despite the difference in their sizes, both of these woodland-dwelling spring bloomers produce gently arching stems beneath which are suspended tiny bell-like flowers. Both also tend to grow into colonies...."
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3697
Oh well I lived in New England and the Midwest as a child, and I had acres and acres of fields and timbers to explore. I may not have learned the names of the plants but I noticed them!

Oh! Do you have Jack in the Pulpits? Sweet Williams? Spring Beauties? Dutchman's Breeches?
I would pay money for those - wonder if they'd live as house plants. What memories they bring back!
 

TeresaT

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Goldenrod gets a lot of bad press, because it has the bad habit of blooming at the same time ragweed blooms AND goldenrod blooms are showy while ragweed blooms are almost invisible. Turns out goldenrod pollen is sticky and heavy, since goldenrod is pollinated by bees and other flying insects and sticky pollen travels better on tiny bee feet. Ragweed is pollinated by the wind, so its pollen is light and dry -- just right to travel alllllll overrrrr. It's actually ragweed that's the real culprit for the worst fall allergies.

Edit: But I see even the Zyrtec website shows goldenrod on the page "five-facts-about-ragweed". If this company can't get it right, small wonder that everyday folks blame goldenrod for their hay fever miseries!



Here is a side by side comparision:


Source: https://localtvwqad.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/goldenrodvsragweed.png?
When I first moved to Tennessee, I went to an allergist. My allergy tests revealed I'm allergic to goldenrod, lambs quarter and red cedar. I am not allergic to ragweed.

I found this "red cedar" allergy to be very interesting since I grew up in Pennsylvania and used to go to the Pine Barrens frequently as a kid. There was a lot of cedar growing there and we'd swim in the cedar lakes. Our white t-shirts would be stained from the cedar water and that never came out! (Oh gosh, I remember what it did to my hair!!) Anyway, I never had any problems growing up with cedar pollen in the barrens. Apparently, I grew up with "white cedar" trees and am not allergic to them, just the "red cedar" trees.

And there is another story about just how backwards I am.
 

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I, also, have been tested, and am allergic to goldenrod. I am also allergic to ragweed. Yes, most of my current misery is caused by ragweed, but considering that down my street there is a whole lot covered with goldenrod (don't ask), I think that may also be part of the problem.

School librarians rock! I learned how to embroidery and crochet from my elementary school librarian. I was already an addicted reader before I got to elementary school. That school started the year I went into first grade, so it was not well stocked just yet. But she made up for that in choosing awesome books for each year. I was blessed with other awesome librarians, but Mrs. Jordan was amazing.
 

DeeAnna

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Well, I didn't say goldenrod isn't allergenic, just that it gets blamed for more than its share. :)

"...Do you have Jack in the Pulpits? Sweet Williams? Spring Beauties? Dutchman's Breeches?..."

Jack in the Pulpit, Sweet William, Dutchmans Breeches, Anemone, Columbine, May Apples ... yes! I usually miss the Jack in the Pulpit blooms -- it's easier to find the plants by the scarlet berries this time of year. I think Spring Beauties live further east of Iowa. What's blooming right now -- yellow coneflower, various sunflowers, goldenrod, asters, the tail end of Joe Pye Weed and Mullein. It's a pretty time of year.
 

navigator9

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I'm glad you posted this. I have Soloman's Seal in my garden, but I guess I never paid attention to it at this time of year, because I didn't know it had berries! Thanks for the heads up.
 
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