Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
I am highly allergic to pollen and every fall my allergies go crazy. I always thought I was allergic to both Golden Rod and Ragweed, but my neighbor says not so. Are they different?
Every year in late August through October,
hay fever sufferers everywhere have sneezing attacks caused
by pollen from Ragweed. Many people often confuse Ragweed
and Golden Rod and blame both for their allergic reactions.
Ragweed is the culprit and not Goldenrod. Even though they
both bloom at roughly the same time, they are completely
different plants and look quite different. To start, Golden Rod
is a perennial and Ragweed is an annual. Their stems and
leaves are dramatically different - Golden Rod has a single
stem with some branches at the top, whereas Ragweed has
many branches from the bottom of the plant all the way to the
top. Goldenrod has single leaves and Ragweed has lobed
or dissected leaves. Golden Rod flowers are bright yellow
and pretty and Ragweed flowers are boring and non-descript
(see pictures in this article). The biggest difference between
the two and most important to allergy sufferers is the way
they pollinate. Golden Rod is colorful and attractive and has
heavy, sticky pollen, which is well adapted to insect pollinators,
whereas Ragweed has light, wind-blown pollen. In fact,
Ragweed pollen can travel hundreds of miles in the air.
Golden Rod is a wonderful native plant that has several
dozen species and is not responsible for any seasonal
allergies. If you have Ragweed on your property and suffer
from it, remove it, but plant and enjoy the beautiful
Goldenrod in your gardens.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.