Species At Risk

Showy Goldenrod

(Solidago speciosa)


Showy Goldenrod


Showy Goldenrod is a large perennial belonging to the aster family. It can grow to two metres in height. It has large, toothed, egg-shaped lower leaves and much smaller more smooth-edged upper leaves. Showy Goldenrod typically has numerous upright, unbranched stems rising from a central clump. The small yellow flowers form a cylindrical cluster along the upper 30 centimetres of the stem.

Action we are taking:


Showy Goldenrod is widespread in the eastern United States, ranging from New Hampshire west to Wyoming, and south to New Mexico and the Gulf states. In Canada, this species is restricted to southwestern and northwestern Ontario. In southwestern Ontario, there are two populations on Walpole Island First Nation in Lambton County, which contained approximately 800 plants in 2008. In northwestern Ontario, there is a single population of about 1000 plants.


Showy Goldenrod is a plant of open habitats. In southwestern Ontario, it grows in prairie grasslands and oak savannahs on fine sandy loam soils. These habitats are kept in an open condition by frequent fires. In northwestern Ontario, it grows in prairie grassland on a south-facing slope, on shallow soils over bedrock, bordered by jack pine and white pine. Here, the habitat remains in an open condition due to the shallowness of the soil, which is not deep enough for trees and shrubs to become established.


The main threat to Showy Goldenrod is habitat destruction due to development together with agricultural expansion. Other threats include damage to plants from pedestrian and ATV traffic, and competition from invasive plants such as European Common Reed (Phragmites australis spp. australis) and White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba). A limiting factor for this species is the decline in tallgrass prairie and savannah habitat in southern Ontario.


Showy Goldenrod is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help Showy Goldenrod

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Showy Goldenrod. The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas collects observations of all Ontario reptiles and amphibians. Submit your observations to either of these databases at nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/species/species_report.cfm and www.ontarionature.org/atlas. Photographs are important to help confirm the identification of species and are always helpful.
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have an important role to play in species recovery . If you find Showy Goldenrod on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: ontario.ca/speciesatrisk.
  • Showy Goldenrod and many other species at risk depend on healthy grassland prairies, a 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 a 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 .
  • The Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program is available to farmers registered under the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan to encourage greater protection and conservation of habitat for species at risk. Find more information at www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/environment/efp/efp.htm.

Did you know?

The population of Showy Goldenrod in northwest Ontario does not seem to belong to any known variety of the plant, two to four of which are recognized. It may be a new variety endemic to Ontario and possibly nearby Manitoba.

Did you know?

The root of this species was used by Aboriginal people for burns, strained muscles, trouble breathing and difficult labour.

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.