GAIA

“All living things pattern themselves on each other and become one.”
– Ann Walmsley,
The Prison Book Club

The Goldenrod Club

by Melanie Milanich

Announcement

The Goldenrod Club of Toronto will hold its first meeting on Thursday, June 1 at the picnic tables at the Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market from 3-7 PM. All welcome, including artists, photographers, poets, musicians…

The Goldenrod Club of Toronto is a social club for goldenrod growers, goldenrod lovers or goldenrod researchers. Its purpose is to support growers of goldenrod, to promote, protect, educate and spread knowledge of goldenrod, and of course to grow more goldenrod.

Gold rush

Did you know that it’s just a myth that goldenrod causes allergies? The pollen is heavy and sticky and so is not carried by the wind. Ragweed, an inconspicuous plant that is wind-pollinated, does cause allergies. Because both plants bloom and produce pollen at the same time, goldenrod is blamed for allergies.

This myth needs to be rooted out! The social club may hold public talks or provide information on media sites to clarify the differences between goldenrod and ragweed.

The club also promotes goldenrod as our best native pollinator plant, used by over 120 insects. It is a plant to be exalted and praised, admired and cherished!

Grey, tall, early, zig-zag, stiff, wreathed and Canada!

As a social club, we can share stories about the insect pollinators we have seen on goldenrod plants. We can share seeds and plants and encourage its spread throughout the city. We can have tables at plant sales and events such as Seedy Saturdays, Canada Blooms, native plant sales, and neighbourhood farmers markets.

We can also learn about and support the growth and maintenance of a wide variety of our native goldenrod species—the biodiversity of goldenrods: grey goldenrod, tall goldenrod, early goldenrod, zig-zag goldenrod, grass-leaved goldenrod, stiff goldenrod, wreath goldenrod and Canada goldenrod. We can share how a variety of insects, birds and mammals use goldenrod, and the plant’s preferred ecology (like sun and moisture). The bright yellow colour attracts many species of insects and is an essential nectar plant in the fall for butterflies.

Another purpose of the social club can be to learn and share the history, myths, stories and variety of uses (medicinal and other) by indigenous people, early settlers and native birds, insects and mammals. Our own native plants that have evolved here over thousands of years, with our particular unique geochemical conditions, need to be given much more prominence than the Japanese cherry blossoms in High Park!

Like syrup and beavers

The ecological benefits of goldenrod cannot be overstated. The deep roots absorb rainwater and help to stabilize slopes and prevent erosion. It is a good plant to reduce storm-water runoff into our sewers and prevent localized flooding.

Goldenrod is a part of our own natural and cultural heritage in the same way that maple syrup and beavers and white pine trees are. It is native to Toronto and North America and was introduced to Europe in the 16th or 17th centuries, probably by Walter Raleigh’s botanist in the same the way he brought sunflowers and potatoes to the Europeans.


Melanie Milanich is a life member of the Toronto Field Naturalists and has been a volunteer with the Native Plant Society. She is also a member of the Toronto Botanical Gardens and writes a nature column for the East York Chronicle.

The Goldenrod Club of Toronto will meet on the first Thursdays of June, July and August at Dufferin Grove Park, coincident with the farmers’ market, from 3-7 PM, at the picnic tables. The September to November meetings will be held at the Toronto Botanical Gardens (coinciding with the farmers’ market, from 3-7 PM on the first Thursdays).

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