Goldenrod has finished blooming in my yard for over a week, so I was surprised to find a few plants blooming as I hiked up the slopes of Roan Mountain, at nearly 6000 feet. Though I went in search of fall colors, I was happy to find these unexpected fall flowers. The warm autumn has allowed summer wildlife to continue later than ever.
There are over 100 species of goldenrod, most native to North America. They grow from Arctic Canada to tropical habitats of the Virgin Islands and Hawaii. Various species grow in a wide range of habitats, from ocean dunes to bogs, forests, and of course the fields where they seem to do best. Beyond North America, they are found in Mexico and South America, and further flung in North Africa, Europe and Asia. In parts of Asia and Europe there are efforts to eradicate the non-native invasives since they threaten native wildlife. Their toughness is indicated by how they have vigorously colonized and thrived in rice fields abandoned in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster in Japan.
Here in their natural habitats I find much to admire. Several species grow wild in my yard, and for weeks in late summer and early autumn they attract dozens of pollinators. Though blamed for allergies, it is actually ragweed blooming at the same time that is responsible here for most seasonal allergies. Both in my yard and on these nearby mountains their golden splash of color mirrors the fire of autumn leaves, with persistent flowers continuing to bloom as the rest of the world grows gray and brown.