Let’s solve a myth
This time of the year roadsides and meadows are filled with gold, in the form of Goldenrods (Solidago species). These marvelous late-blooming plants are very important to fall pollinators and migratory butterflies such as Monarchs. Since goldenrod’s blooming period of late summer and fall coincides with the blooming period of ragweed, they are frequently blamed for hay-fever symptoms. Some homeowners may hesitate buying goldenrods because they believe that they would cause allergy symptoms like runny and itchy nose.
Goldenrods, however, are innocent of these accusations. Their polled is heavy and sticky. It does not get blown in the wind, but sticks to visiting insects, as with other insect pollinated species. These specific characteristics of goldenrod pollen make it unlikely to make it to our respiratory system.
As mentioned the real culprit for your allergy woes is Ragweed (Ambrosia species). Ragweed is an insignificant-looking plant that blooms about the same time as goldenrods. The flowers are inconspicuous and the plants blend very well into surroundings. Ragweed species don’t contain nectar, so they are not insect pollinating plants. They rely on wind to carry their pollen. Ragweed pollen is very small and is spread by wind, aggravating many hay-fever sufferers. These plants don’t just cause allergy symptoms but also dermatitis or rash if you handle them without gloves.
Goldenrods abound in late summer and early fall. And so does hay fever. But guess what? Goldenrod pollen does not float in the air so it can’t get in your nose to make you sneeze. The real culprit is ragweed. And mugwort. And grasses. All of these have abundant windborne pollen.
When summer begins to fade, for many, seasonal allergies are just getting started. What’s really to blame? This time of year, fields of gold can be seen all over Minnesota and throughout the metro. Goldenrod, with its showy flowers, is in full bloom in August and September.
Allergy sufferers, between their sneezes and eye rubbing, frequently cast blame on the goldenrod for their suffering.
But that blame is misplaced. Goldenrod, contrary to popular belief, is NOT the culprit of most allergies this time of year. In order for pollen allergies to be activated, pollen must be windblown. However, as indicated by the bees and butterflies, goldenrod attracts these pollinators to disseminate their pollen grains – and does not rely on wind.