Invasive alien - Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)



This is the first article of the series of functional ecosystems.

The goldenrod was and is used as a dye plant. It produces yellow pigments. Further it is a good food source for bees and butterflies and can be used as a medical plant for kidney and bladder. Thus, it was cultivated already in the 17th century in Europe. However, it became really invasive in the beginning of the 20th century and spread across all Europe within short time. Since 1935 in China as well. It favors fallow habitats for establishing dense populations. Thus, it is supported by our modern agriculture. Edges of fields and railroad embankments are the most common dispersal vectors for this plant which makes it even more dangerous as the railroad provides a suitable dispersal "highway" for the goldenrod. But it can grow in almost all habitats.

Once it established a population, the goldenrod can displace native grassland species rapidly and reduces the biodiversity of an ecosystem enormously (plant as well as animal diversity). Even though it constitutes a good food source for nectar feeding insects, it is too dangerous to ignore this threat of native ecosystems and it should be wiped out in as many foreign habitats as possible to overcome this wheat.

If you want to erase a goldenrod population, the best way would be to cut the stipes shortly above the surface and dig out the rhizome completely. The plant is able to store a lot of nutrients in its rhizome, which is a modified stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots from its nodes to spread to neighboring grounds. Thus, you should ensure, that you got all of it. However, it is not always possible and coupled with huge effort to dig out all rhizome. In such a case, you should cut the plant as short above the ground as possible, several times a year. The goldenrod is able to put forth already after a short time after cutting and is still able to produce flowers and seeds during the same year. At least, you should prevent the plant to produce seeds. That means you should cut it at least during its flowering period. But during the phase before flowering it can gather and store nutrients again. If you cut it regularly during the year, for approximately three years, you can starve out the rhizome and the plant will die. If the plant already exists a longer time at this place, there may be already seeds within the ground that may be able to grow even after this period. So, just keep watching whether new plants grow from time to time.


  • Werner, P. A., Gross, R. S., & Bradbury, I. K. (1980). The biology of Canadian weeds.: 45. Solidago canadensis L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science
  • Dong, M., Lu, J., Zhang, W., Chen, J., & Li, B. (2006). Canada goldenrod ( Solidago canadensis): An invasive alien weed rapidly spreading in China. Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica
  • Abhilasha, D., Quintana, N., Vivanco, J., & Joshi, J. (2008). Do allelopathic compounds in invasive Solidago canadensis sl restrain the native European flora?. Journal of Ecology
  • Picture: Oliver Pichard