AKA: sweet goldenrod
This is a low maintenance, native, herbaceous, perennial, wildflower native to the eastern half of the United States from Texas to New Hampshire. Anise-scented goldenrod is wonderfully fragrant with anise and licorice smells, especially when the leaves or stems are bruised.
This member of the Aster family attains an average height of 3 feet to 4 feet and a diameter of approximately 12 inches to 18 inches. It blossoms out with pyramidal, bright yellow flowers that are medium to large clusters during the summer. The flowers can be used fresh as cut flowers in the home or can be dried (upside down, please!) and used to liven up a home in the winter.
The anise-scented goldenrod is naturally found in Hardiness Zones 4 trough 9, thus, living well in the Chattanooga area. It is primarily clump-forming and does not spread aggressively as do some of the other goldenrod species and hybrids. This wildflower naturalizes well, is drought resistant and tolerates clay soil. It also tolerated soil alkalinity from acidic to alkaline, and is somewhat tolerant of deer browsing. The species will tolerate wide moisture levels, but prefers moderate to low soil moisture.
All photos via iNaturalist, CC-by-NC. Click photo for details and license.
Because of its bright yellow flowers, its tall stature and its remarkable fragrance, the anise-scented goldenrod is favored in garden planting as either an accent for certain landscape locations, as the backdrop to a planted bed, or as an unusual fragrance to a landscaped area.
The anise-scented goldenrod is the state flower of Delaware, where it is referred to as the sweet goldenrod.
For years the anise-scented goldenrod was used to produce a medicinal tea, the blue mountain tea, for treatment of a variety of problems including wounds, ulcers, urinary disorders, flatulence, and as a stimulant.
This species is attractive to bees and butterflies. Also, songbirds eat the seeds, thus it will attract birds, especially in the autumn when other foods are scarce.
The genus name, Solidago, comes from the Latin words solidus meaning “whole” and ago meaning “to make” in reference to the medicinal healing properties of some species plants. The specific epithet, odora, means fragrant.
About the Author
Charlie Belin is a retired professor and biological oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia system for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.
Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!