Woody goldenrod's showy blossoms appear in late autumn and are attractive to bees. Click here to download a larger version of this image for a closer look.
Woody goldenrod is a small sprawling shrub, usually around 2-3 ft (60-90 cm) high and 3-4 ft (90-120 cm wide). Individuals are much branched and often fall over and continue to grow outward as they age. The leaves are evergreen, and quite thick, almost succulent, and a peculiar grayish green in color. The stems are gray. Leaves are almost linear in shape, around 2 in (5 cm) long and a quarter inch (6.3 mm) wide. The grayish leaves and stems give the plant a very distinctive appearance, even from a distance. Bright yellow flowers are produced in late summer at the ends of flowering branches, which extend beyond the leafier non-flowering branches. The flowers are very similar to those of the various true goldenrod (Solidago) species.
Location Chrysoma pauciflosculosa occurs in dry, sandy scrub and sandhills habitats along the Fall Line in the Carolinas and Georgia, and on the Coastal Plain in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle. It is normally found in the turkey oak (Quercus laevis) and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) association (called sandhills), or the sand live oak (Q. geminata) and sand pine (P. clausa) association (known as scrub). On the Gulf Coast, woody goldenrod occurs in coastal scrubs behind the primary dune system, as well as scrubby habitats further inland. Stands of woody goldenrod are sometimes quite dense and when in bloom may appear from a distance as unbroken yellow at ground level.
Culture Light: Woody goldenrod grows in full sun. Moisture: Once established, woody goldenrod is extremely drought tolerant. It grows naturally in the driest, sandiest soils in the Southeast, and probably could survive in a desert. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 9. In nature, woody goldenrod occurs only in Zone 8. Its tolerance to cooler and to warmer climates is not known for certain, and we are only guessing it can be grown in zones 7 and 9. Propagation: Like so many other small shrubs, it probably would be possible to start woody goldenrod from fast growing tip cuttings taken in early spring, just as new growth is accelerating. Seeds can be collected in winter.
Woody goldenrod's showy blossoms appear in late autumn and are attractive to bees.
Woody goldenrod is sometimes available from native plant nurseries. Like other xeric adapted plants that grow in deep sands, woody goldenrod is almost impossible to relocate. Rescue efforts to move woody goldenrod from sites about to be developed almost always fail.
Use woody goldenrod in no-water xeriscape landscapes, even in deep, sandy soils. Grow with Florida rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides), any of the several species of Conradina, garberia (Garberia fruticosa), prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), and other drought defiant shrubs. Be sure to prevent other, larger trees and shrubs from crowding or shading woody goldenrod. It may prove difficult to get it going, but once it adjusts, woody goldenrod should thrive for many years with little care.
Woody goldenrod is a species of scrub communities which rarely have nayural fires. It releases chemicals into the soil that inhibit the germination of fire prone grasses which occur in nearby sandhills communities which burn frequently. The phenomenon is called allelopathy, and is not uncommon among scrub plant species. The sandhills grasses, which are absent from scrubs, actually facilitate the natural, lightning caused fires that burn the sandhills communities so regularly. Lacking the ground cover of flammable grasses, scrubs rarely burn, even when trees or shrubs are directly struck by lightning.
Woody goldenrod is listed as Endangered in North Carolina, and a Species of Special Concern in South Carolina. Its natural habitat includes coastal and Fall Line scrubs that are high and dry and being developed for residential and commercial purposes as quickly as humanly possible.