August to September
Originally, the legislation referred to the flower as “golden rod -- Solidago serotina” which has been modified today to Goldenrod -- Solidago gigantea.
Goldenrod is often blamed for causing hay fever, which is in fact due to pollen from the ragweed plant.
The Goldenrod of Nebraska has been described as a weed, an herb and a wildflower. The tall wispy plant has grown abundantly throughout the Cornhusker State since well before lawmakers in Lincoln tapped it as their state flower in 1895. The flower represents the pioneering spirit through its ability to thrive in suboptimal conditions.
This hardy plant flourishes in meadows and pastures as well as on the edges of woodlands, in ditches, along roadsides and in waste areas. Today, while images of pioneers have faded, Nebraskans continue to celebrate their state flower in name, from Goldenrod Park in Bellevue to Goldenrod Lane in Lincoln.
Throughout the state, Goldenrod plants grow in field-like clumps, reaching heights between 2-3 feet tall. The flowers get their name from their inflorescence, or upper stems, where bright, small flowers grow in clusters. The flower’s rays attract butterflies and bees, which pollinate the plant and feed on its nectar. Goldenrod flowers appear at the end of summer, making the Nebraska state flower one of the last flower “shows” of the year.
Early Native Americans used the plant’s late bloom to their advantage. The Omaha tribesmen spent summers hunting buffalos; the sight of Goldenrod blooms let them know that the corn they had planted back home was beginning to ripen.
The Nebraska state flower was important to the Native American tribes for other reasons too. They made a tea out of it to treat heart conditions, a painkiller to treat bee stings, as well as an ointment to treat muscle pains. Some species of Goldenrod (there are 125 in the U.S.) were even chewed to relieve toothaches.
Full Sun/Partial Shade
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Top image courtesy of Eric Kirby.