Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Wand Goldenrod - Solidago virgata   Michaux
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Members of Solidago with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Asteraceae
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DistributionThis is a recently split species, not accepted by many botanists, from the former Solidago stricta. Nearly all of the records for the former S. stricta now refer to S. virgata. Coastal Plain only; rare on the Outer Banks (Roanoke Island), and absent from the Sandhills proper.

Coastal Plain, southern NJ to FL and TX; W.I., southern Mex.
AbundanceBecause this species is widespread in most of the Coastal Plain, the editors have assigned a State Rank of S4?, in brackets. This taxon is not in NatureServe (note the GNR Global Rank = not ranked) or the NCNHP database, and thus this website requires a State Rank. The Global Rank would obviously be G5. Individual populations vary from uncommon to abundant; in general, it is frequently encountered in the southern third of the Coastal Plain (e.g., fairly common to common), infrequent in the central counties, and very rare to absent in the northern ones.
HabitatMoist to wet Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass savannas and flatwoods, pocosin ecotones, margins of fresh-tidal to brackish marshes.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late August-October.
IdentificationSouthern Wand Goldenrod is tall and slender, often reaching 5-6 feet tall and with a single, one-sided spike for an inflorescence. There usually is a basal rosette of lance-shaped, stalked leaves; stem leaves rapidly become smaller upstem, sessile, lance-shaped to narrowly elliptical, and nearly erect against the stem. Sometimes the inflorescence has some short, curved branches. Richard LeBlond has shown that S. virgata differs from gracillima/austrina by longer involucres (4.5-7 mm long vs. 3.5-5 mm) and pappus (feathery bristles on seed) (4.2-5 mm long vs. 2.3-4 mm). Weakley (2018) states that S. virgata has "Leaf margins tending to become smooth on the upper stem", as opposed to "scabrous (or at least tuberculate) throughout"; and "panicle branches usually stiffly erect" in this species versus "panicle branches often spreading-erect with recurved-secund tips" in S. gracillima. The effect is that S. virgata has a very narrow and spike-like inflorescence whereas the S. gracillima inflorescence is typically wider and not spike-like.
Taxonomic CommentsSee Semple et al. (2016) for a (controversial) paper on the S. stricta group.

Other Common Name(s)The collective "S. stricta" is named as Wand Goldenrod. Weakley (2018) has coined Southern Wand Goldenrod for this species and Northern Wand Goldenrod for the remainder of S. stricta.
State Rank[S4?]
Global RankGNR [G5]
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B.A. SorrieOld Dock Savanna, Sept 1993. ColumbusPhoto_natural
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