Species At Risk

Houghton’s Goldenrod

(Solidago houghtonii)


Houghton’s Goldenrod
Houghton’s Goldenrod occurrences map


Houghton’s Goldenrod produces showy, yellow flowers in late summer and early autumn. The smooth reddish stems of this wildflower can reach 30 to 60 centimetres in height. The lower stem leaves are narrow and long, becoming smaller further up the stem. Houghton’s Goldenrod usually has five to 30 flower heads with 20 to 30 flowers in each.


Houghton’s Goldenrod is only found near the Great Lakes of North America. In Ontario, it is found at Cabot Head at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and at several sites in the Manitoulin Island area. Based on surveys done in 2003, the Ontario population is estimated to include 27,000 mature plants.


In Ontario, Houghton’s Goldenrod grows primarily on open alvars, which are barren-looking landscapes of exposed bedrock with very little soil. This rare habitat is kept relatively open and sunny by natural disturbances, such as drought and fire, which prevent shade-producing shrubs and trees from taking over. Houghton’s Goldenrod is also found in the relatively low wetland areas between sand dunes associated with Great Lakes shorelines.


One of the main threats to Houghton’s Goldenrod is habitat destruction due to human activities, such as urban development, habitat alteration and recreational activities. Road widening has already resulted in the loss of one population. The natural growth of trees and shrubs that shade-out this sun-loving plant is also a serious problem. At some sites, invasive plants that compete with this plant for light and space are also an issue.


Houghton’s Goldenrod is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act.

What You Can Do to Help Houghton’s Goldenrod

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Houghton’s Goldenrod. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find Houghton’s Goldenrod on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Houghton’s Goldenrod and many other species at risk depend on healthy grassland prairies, a very rare habitat in Ontario. Learn more about these habitats, the species that depend on them, and what you can do to help at www.tallgrassontario.org.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.
  • Invasive species seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To learn what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: ontario.ca/invasivespecies; www.invadingspecies.com; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca.

Did you know?

Goldenrod flowers are a magnet for bees and butterflies that feed on nectar and pollen. Many populations of these insect pollinators are declining around the world. You can help prevent the loss of pollinators by planting insect-friendly plants such as goldenrods, Butterfly Milkweed and Yellow Daisy in your garden.

Did you know?

Houghton’s Goldenrod grows almost exclusively near the north shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Did you know?

Houghton’s Goldenrod grows almost exclusively near the north shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.