Goldenrod by PethanPhoto by Pethan

Fast Facts

  • Adopted Kentucky state flower in 1926
  • Botanical name: Solidago gigantea
  • Goldenrod is also the state flower of Nebraska and the state wildflower of South Carolina
  • Goldenrod trivia: More than 30 species of goldenrod are native to Kentucky.
  • Kentucky Flower Delivery

When most people think of Kentucky’s flora, Kentucky bluegrass often springs to mind. In fact, bluegrass is so entwined with the state’s identity that it was once selected as the Kentucky state flower despite the fact that it is actually a grass.

Today, the Kentucky state flower is the goldenrod. Lawmakers chose the leggy yellow plant to replace bluegrass in 1926 after gardening clubs complained that bluegrass represented only one region of the geographically diverse state. (Apparently they were less bothered about its status as a grass!)

The tall and spindly plant thrives in many conditions and soil types. It grows easily in gardens and landscapes in and around the state’s most populated areas including Louisville, Lexington-Fayette and Frankfort. Flowers from the goldenrod also appear outside of these more urban areas, growing along roadsides, at the edge of woodlands and in fields.

Goldenrod by PethanPhoto by Pethan

Kentucky’s state flower has green foliage and prominent yellow flowers that blossom most actively in the summer time. When the flowers bloom in late summer and early fall, yellow fields of goldenrod appear from Kentucky’s central Fayette County to McCraken County in the west.

While many species of the plant are celebrated (ecology clubs in the state work to protect two endangered species, Short’s and the white-haired goldenrod), state lawmakers singled out the solidago gigantea species as the Kentucky state flower. The species grows to be twice the height of other goldenrods, up to eight feet tall.

Goldenrods earned their name from their inflorescence, or upper stem, along which bright, small flowers grow in clusters. The flower’s rays attract butterflies and bees, which pollinate the plant and feed on its nectar.

Residents of the Bluegrass state have a long history of appreciating the Kentucky state flower. The flower appears on the state flag encircling the Kentucky state seal. Well before that, Native Americans valued the plant as a medicinal herb. Teas prepared from parts of the goldenrod were used to reduce fevers, treat bladder and kidney problems, among other things.

Source links:

University of Kentucky Agriculture Dept.