Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Solidago gigantea
(giant goldenrod)



Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod)


  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Solidago gigantea
  • Preferred Common Name
  • giant goldenrod
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. gigantea has spread in a number of European countries after introduction as an ornamental plant from its native North America. It continues to be available as an ornamental from mail-order catalogues and web...

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Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); typical bright yellow inflorescences.
CaptionSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); typical bright yellow inflorescences.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); typical bright yellow inflorescences.
FlowersSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); typical bright yellow inflorescences.©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit, showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.
CaptionSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit, showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit, showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.
HabitSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit, showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.
CaptionSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.
HabitSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); habit showing bright yellow inflorescences, leaves and stem.©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); close-up of typical bright yellow inflorescences.
CaptionSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); close-up of typical bright yellow inflorescences.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); close-up of typical bright yellow inflorescences.
FlowersSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); close-up of typical bright yellow inflorescences.©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); upper surface of leaves and stem.
CaptionSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); upper surface of leaves and stem.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); upper surface of leaves and stem.
LeavesSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); upper surface of leaves and stem.©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); ower surface of leaves and stem.
CaptionSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); ower surface of leaves and stem.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); ower surface of leaves and stem.
LeavesSolidago gigantea (giant goldenrod); ower surface of leaves and stem.©István Dancza


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Solidago gigantea Aiton

Preferred Common Name

  • giant goldenrod

Other Scientific Names

  • Solidago × leiophallax Friesner
  • Solidago pitcheri Nutt.
  • Solidago serotina Aiton, non Retz.
  • Solidago serotina var. gigantea (Aiton) A. Gray
  • Solidago serotinoides A. & D. Löve
  • Solidago shinnersii (Beaudry) Beaudry

International Common Names

  • English: late goldenrod; smooth goldenrod

Local Common Names

  • France: solidage tardif; verge d'or géant
  • Germany: Reisen-Goldrute
  • Hungary: magas aranyvesszo
  • Italy: verga d'oro maggiore
  • Japan: oh-awadachi-so
  • Netherlands: late guldenroede
  • Spain: vara de oro gigantiflora

EPPO code

  • SOOGI (Solidago gigantea)

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. gigantea has spread in a number of European countries after introduction as an ornamental plant from its native North America. It continues to be available as an ornamental from mail-order catalogues and web-sites of commercial nurseries and botanical gardens. Morita (2002) indicates that S. gigantea is less noxious than S. altissima, but it is an undesirable invader on account of its large rhizomes and vigorous growth leading to gross changes in the native vegetation and fauna. S. gigantea is not a serious weed in annual crops since it can be controlled by tilling. However, it invades poorly managed pasture and can be a considerable weed in forest nurseries and in perennial gardens and crops.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Solidago
  •                                 Species: Solidago gigantea

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Solidago gigantea belongs to the canadensis complex and to the subgenus Triplinervae with triple-nerved leaves. There is considerable taxonomic confusion within the genus Solidago, notably within the S. canadensis complex. However, S. gigantea appears to generally be one of the more clearly defined taxa within that complex. It is a variable taxon and several varieties have been distinguished (S. gigantea Aiton var. gigantea, S. gigantea Aiton var. leiophylla Fernald, S. gigantea Aiton var. pitcheri (Nutt.) Shinners, S. gigantea Aiton var. serotina (Kuntze) Cronquist, S. gigantea Aiton var. shinnersii Beaudry), some of these are granted subspecies status. The taxon is also referred to as S. gigantea subsp. serotina (Kuntze) McNeill. The plants occurring in Japan are referred to as S. gigantea Ait. var. leiophylla Fern. (Morita, 2002). For more information see Weber and Jakobs (2005).


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S. gigantea is a 30-280 cm tall, erect rhizomatous perennial with annual aboveground shoots and persistent belowground rhizomes. One to several rhizomes emerge near the base of the dying shoots in autumn, thus leading to a branched rhizome system rooted mainly at the old and current shoot bases. Aerial stems arise from the rhizome apices in the following spring. Roots are inserted at the shoot base and reach a minimum depth of 20 cm. Stems are unbranched except in the inflorescence. Stems are glabrous and often glaucous below the inflorescence. They may be weakly hairy in the inflorescence only. Stems may have a purplish cast and a white, waxy bloom. A nodding shoot tip is occasionally observed in the native range.

Leaves are simple and alternate, sessile, with the largest leaves towards mid-stem and decreasing in size upwards. Leaves are triple-nerved, glabrous or sometimes pubescent beneath, lanceolate, often acuminate, with margins mostly serrate, occasionally entire. Inflorescences form broad pyramidal panicles with recurving branches and a central axis. Bracts of the involucre are linear, obtuse or somewhat acute. Ray florets are golden yellow, female and fertile; disc florets bisexual and fertile. The capitula are 3-5 mm long. Achenes are pubescent, 1-2 mm long, with a pappus of 1 mm long.

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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S. gigantea is native to the USA and Canada, between the latitudes 30°N and 55°N, and introduced to Europe and temperate parts of Asia. The zonal amplitude stretches from the meridional to the subboreal belt in the eastern part of the European range (Meusel and Jäger, 1992).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 23 Apr 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


JapanPresent, LocalizedEPPO (2020)
-HokkaidoPresentIntroducedCABI (Undated); EPPO (2020)Original citation: Tsuyuzaki (2002)
South KoreaPresentIntroducedCho et al. (2013)First reported: 1960s


AlbaniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
AustriaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
BelgiumPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
BulgariaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
CzechiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
DenmarkPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
Faroe IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003)
FinlandPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
FrancePresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003)
GermanyPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
GreecePresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003)
HungaryPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
IrelandPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
ItalyPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
LiechtensteinPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003)
LuxembourgPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
NorwayPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveSunding (1989); Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
PolandPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
PortugalPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
-AzoresPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
RomaniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
RussiaPresent, LocalizedEPPO (2020)
-Central RussiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
-Eastern SiberiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
-Northern RussiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
-Southern RussiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
SerbiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
SlovakiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003)
SloveniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
SpainPresentEPPO (2020)
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003)
SwedenPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
UkrainePresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)
United KingdomPresentIntroducedInvasiveRoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2003); EPPO (2020)

North America

CanadaPresent, WidespreadEPPO (2020)
-AlbertaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-British ColumbiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-ManitobaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-New BrunswickPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-Nova ScotiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-OntarioPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-Prince Edward IslandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-QuebecPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
-SaskatchewanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2003)
United StatesPresent, WidespreadEPPO (2020)
-AlabamaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-ArkansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-CaliforniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-ColoradoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-ConnecticutPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-DelawarePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-FloridaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-GeorgiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-IdahoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-IllinoisPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-IndianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-IowaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-KansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-KentuckyPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-LouisianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MainePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MarylandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MassachusettsPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MichiganPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MinnesotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MississippiPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MissouriPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-MontanaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-NebraskaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-NevadaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-New HampshirePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-New JerseyPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-New MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-New YorkPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-North CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-North DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-OhioPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-OklahomaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-OregonPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-PennsylvaniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-Rhode IslandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-South CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-South DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-TennesseePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-TexasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-UtahPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-VermontPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-WashingtonPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-West VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-WisconsinPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)
-WyomingPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS (2004)

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. gigantea was introduced into Europe as an ornamental plant in the mid 1700s, and the first observations of wild populations date back to the mid 1800s (Wagenitz, 1979). The patterns of spread of the exotic species S. gigantea after its introduction to Europe were investigated, based on herbarium specimens and literature records. Cumulative numbers of localities as well as numbers of occupied grid squares showed a continuous increase since 1850 for this species. The spread of the species in area and time over Europe showed no clear front, and new localities at large distances were colonized simultaneously. A large part of the present range of S. gigantea was already occupied by 1950 (Weber, 1998). The spread pattern across Europe is similar to that in Poland where the abundance increased rapidly in the 1900s (Guzikowa and Maycock, 1986). S. gigantea may still be expanding its range in Europe (Weber, 2001).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Hokkaido   Tsuyuzaki (2002)
Korea, Republic of 1960s Yes Cho et al. (2013)
UK USA 1758 Botanical gardens and zoos (pathway cause) Yes Weber and Jakobs (2005) Distributed to gardens and nurseries in Europe

Risk of Introduction

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S. gigantea is a widespread wild and ornamental plant in Europe. After its introduction it has shown itself well able to naturalize in temperate regions of the world. In Switzerland, this species is on the 'black list', i.e. neophytes whose negative ecological impacts have been documented, and which are problematic from a conservation point of view (CPS-SKEW, 2003).


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S. gigantea is a forb growing in a wide range of different soil conditions but is not shade tolerant (Ellenberg et al., 1992). In its native range grows mainly in forest edges and roadsides, secondary old-fields and unmanaged areas where it colonized after establishment in a short time. In central Europe, S. gigantea is widely naturalized and is found in uncut grasslands, wetland edges, riparian habitats, forest edges, and along road sides (Hartmann and Konold, 1995; Botta-Dukát and Dancza, 2001; Weber, 2003).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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In its native range, S. gigantea can occur in any crop; however, it is not a serious weed in annual crops since it can be controlled by tilling. However, it invades poorly managed pasture and can be a considerable weed in forest nurseries and in perennial gardens and crops.

Biology and Ecology

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S. gigantea shows variation in chromosome numbers with three different cytotypes in its native range. They are listed below according to the nomenclature of Beaudry (1963, 1974); throughout this datasheet, S. gigantea represents the whole S. gigantea complex:

S. gigantea, 2n = 2x = 18 (trichomes on midveins)
S. serotina, 2n = 4x = 36 (glabrous narrow leaves)
S. shinnersii, 2n = 6x = 54 (glabrous wide leaves)

Beaudry (1974) distinguished a further, tetraploid variety, S. serotina forma huntingdonensis, defined by trichomes uniformly covering the lower leaf blade. In contrast, Melville and Morton (1982) find the cytotypes to be morphologically inseparable because of overlapping variation, although there might be a tendency for stronger leaf serration and pubescence in the diploid S. gigantea (Morton, 1984). Therefore, all cytotypes are treated as a single species by Morton (1984), despite being genetically separated.

In Europe, only the tetraploid form is widespread (Schlaepfer et al., 2008; 2010).

In north-east America, the hybrid S. canadensis L. x S. gigantea Ait. has been reported, which has also been identified in France (Wagenitz 1979). In nurseries, S. ptarmicoides (Torrey & A. Gray) B. Boivin (Syn.: Solidago asteroides, Aster ptarmicoides) has occasionally been observed to cross with various Solidago species, among them S. canadensis, the hybrids are known as Solidaster (Schillinget al., 2008).

Microsatellite primers for S. gigantea have been developed (Beck et al., 2014).

Physiology and Phenology

The germination of achenes and the storage carbohydrates of the rhizomes of this species were investigated in samples collected from 16 locations in Hungary in 1998, to study the contribution of these characteristics to the invasiveness of this species (Szabó and Balogh, 2000). Good achene germination was recorded (20-30% germination), especially during spring, but the germination of samples from different locations was highly variable (Laszlo and Lajos, 2000).The germination is frequent in abandoned fields and unmanaged grasslands. The most suitable conditions for germination are the surface of undisturbed soils and gaps in uncut grasslands. In the rhizomes, free sugars were present in early autumn, especially sucrose and fructose, and fructan storage polymers were accumulated in the rhizome during autumn (Szabó and Balogh, 2000). Biomass production was determined mainly by water supply, especially by the rainfall in the first part of the growing season. Early in the growing season, the time of shoot initiation is determined by temperature. The plants responded to summer drought by reducing their leaf area. The rate of leaf decline is influenced by the amount of rainfall, although rainfall has no effect on the formation of leaves. The size and thickness of leaves decreases during the season but the number of leaves does not change considerably; the reduction of leaf area is caused by the diminution of leaf size (Dancza and Botta-Dukát, 2000; Botta-Dukát and Dancza, 2001).

S. gigantea contains various compounds including terpenoids, phenolic compounds, coumarines, polyacetylic substances, polysaccharides, essential oils and diterpenebutenolides (Gerlach, 1965; Jurenitsch et al., 1988; Johnson et al., 2007). The roots contain large amounts of furanoid compounds and acidic compounds (solidagoic acids) (Anthonse et al., 1973). The hydrodistilled essential oil of aerial parts of S. gigantea contains up to 90 constituents (Kalemba et al., 2001). The saponins of S. gigantea have been analysed by Jurenitsch et al. (1986) and Reznicek et al. (1996).

Reproductive Biology

S. gigantea is a rhizomatous hemicryptophyte and has a complex life cycle with rhizome and seed propagation. Seeds of European plants do not show dormancy and do not need scarification or stratification. (Voser-Huber, 1983). The fruit of S. gigantea is an achene with attached pappus. The major pollinating agents of S. gigantea are honeybees (Apis mellifera), bumblebees (Bombus spp.), soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus) and syrphid flies. Although seeds are essential for long-distance dispersal and the colonization of unoccupied sites, they are not important for the spatial extension of established populations. Intensive shoot growth starts in April and shoot height increases nearly linearly until the end of July when final height is achieved. Inflorescences are formed from June onwards. Peak flowering time is between mid-August and end of September, but flowering can continue through October in central Europe. Seeds are easily dispersed by wind, but only in dry weather conditions. Rhizome buds are formed during the summer and grow to rhizomes in autumn. Occasionally, rosettes may be formed in autumn, but normally rhizomes produce shoots in spring of the following year. The main growth period for rhizomes is late summer and autumn.

Environmental Requirements

The habitat preferences of the North American Solidago species are wide. S. gigantea prefers heavy soil types and wetland edges. It usually colonizes semi-natural habitats and often occurs on riverbanks in central Europe. It establishes well in disturbed sites and becomes dominant due to extensive vegetative spread. In the exotic range in Hungary, S. gigantea proved to be a more successful invader than S. canadensis/S. altissima, whereas these species have a wider natural geographical distribution than S. gigantea in their native North America (Dancza and Botta-Dukát, 2003).


S. gigantea is a characteristic species of nitrophilous communities with tall forbs along riverbanks (Class Artemisietea; Ellenberg et al., 1992). Tüxen (1950) distinguished a Rudbeckia laciniata-Solidago canadensis association and Moor (1958) described the Impatienti-Solidaginetum and Impatienti-Solidaginetum associations. S. gigantea forms extensive stands in Onopordetalia-, Aegopodion- and Alliarion communities and penetrates into abandoned Arrhenatheretea meadows (Oberdorfer, 1994). In Hungary, S. gigantea is a character species for other associations, Agropyro-Solidaginetum and Eupatorio-Solidaginetum (Kovács, 1994).


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C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
D - Continental/Microthermal climate Preferred Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • free

Soil reaction

  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A great diversity of insect herbivores attack S. gigantea in its native range. Meyer et al. (2005) observed over 20 different insect taxa in 5 orders feeding on plants in a garden over a 2 year period. These included spittlebugs (Philaenus spumarius), aphids (Uroleucon caligatum and U. nigrotuberculatus), beetles (Trirhabda virgata, Exema canadensis), various caterpillars, various leaf mining and leaf galling insects (including Asteromyia sp.), and other gall-making insects (Epiblema scudderiana, Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis, Rhopalomyia sp). The goldenrod ball gall (Eurosta solidaginis) is also known to occur on S. gigantea (Abrahamson et al., 2001).

The insect fauna of S. altissima (as S. canadensis var. scabra), S. fistulosa, S. gigantea and S. leavenworthii was surveyed in 1981-84 in and around Gainesville, Florida, USA. The 122 phytophagous species collected are listed and classified according to relative frequency of occurrence, guild, host range, plant part attacked, life stages collected, and associated Solidago species. Only 14 (11%) of the phytophagous species are known to be restricted to Solidago and Aster (Compositae). There were eight insect species considered as possible biological control agents of Solidago spp. Eurosta sp. attacking roots, two leaf chewers Ophralella sexvittata and Sparganothis distincta, two leaf miners Agromyzidae sp. and Cremastobombycia solidaginis, a leaf galler Asteromyia carbonifera, and Schizomyia racemicola and Schinia nundina attacking flowers and seeds (Fontes et al., 1994).

Heteropteran species attacking S. gigantea in the Czech Republic have been reported by Rohacova and Drozd (2009)

Foliar pathogens attacking S. gigantea in North America include a rust fungus (Puccinia dioicae), a powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum), and a bacterial pathogen (Xanthomonas sp.) (Meyer et al., 2005). A powdery mildew (Golovinomyces asterum var. solidaginis) has been reported on S. gigantea in Korea (Cho et al., 2013).

S. gigantea has a rich herbivore fauna in its native range but experiences very little herbivory in its introduced range. Jakobs et al. (2004) found that a majority of surveyed S. gigantea populations in North America had herbivore damage, compared to virtually no signs of herbivory in European populations. Plants in Europe were also larger and grew at greater density than plants in North America, suggesting that reduced herbivory may contribute to the invasiveness of S. gigantea in Europe. Several garden experiments have explored whether release from herbivory in the introduced range has resulted in evolution of reduced defenses and/or greater investment in growth and reproduction in European plants. There is evidence that European plants have lower levels of anti-herbivore defenses compared to North American plants: they have lower foliar concentrations of monoterpenes and diterpenes, supported better performance of a generalist caterpillar, and were more susceptible to foliar pathogens (Meyer et al., 2005; Johnson et al., 2007, Hull-Sanders et al., 2007). European plants also tended to be larger than North American plants when grown in gardens (Güsewell et al., 2006; Meyer and Hull-Sanders, 2008). Although European plants produced more inflorescences than North American plants in a European garden (Güsewell et al. 2006), in a North American garden European plants were less likely to flower and showed a greater investment in rhizome biomass compared to inflorescence biomass than North American plants (Meyer and Hull-Sanders, 2008).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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S. gigantea is propagated by seeds and rhizomes. Seeds are produced in very large numbers and long-distance dispersal is by wind. Short-distance dispersal is possible by rhizomes through infested soil (Weber, 2011). Accidental introduction is possible through human activity, such as collecting fruited shoots as an ornament and then disposing of them on rubbish heaps. Seeds and rhizomes may also be dispersed as a result of movement of soil in the course of building work, and by attachment to vehicles or in the slip-stream of road and rail vehicles. S. gigantea seeds are available by via mail-order catalogues and web-sites of commercial nurseries and botanical gardens as an ornamental species, and this may lead to further introduction.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
MailInternet Yes
Soil, sand and gravelRhizome fragments in soil Yes Yes Weber, 2011
Wind Yes Weber and Jakobs, 2005

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Fruits (inc. pods)
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production Negative
Human health Negative
Livestock production None
Native fauna Negative
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism Negative
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None


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S. gigantea is an alternative host of insects that can be vectors of plant pathogens. In infested areas, litter accumulation makes the field restoration difficult. According to Béres and Kazinczi (2000), residues of S. gigantea reduced germination of test crops but fresh weight of crop seedlings was stimulated. Shoot extracts of S. gigantea reduced germination of wheat by 7.6% and germination of barley by 9.8%, whereas in bioassays, extracts of S. gigantea increased the fresh weight of wheat and barley plants.

Environmental Impact

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Large areas covered by S. gigantea are mostly the result of inappropriate management of grasslands and abandoned fields. Once established, S. gigantea outcompetes native species and in this way negatively affects fauna and flora. Dominated communities lead to a decrease of field diversity, with a loss of protected native plant and animal species, and also loss of common character species in the new homogenized landscape. Extensive stands in reeds are of concern to managers of conservation areas.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


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S. gigantea is cultivated as an ornamental plant in Europe, and S. gigantea-dominated areas are suitable for honey production (Stefanic et al., 2003). The species is also used as a medicinal plant.

Uses List

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  • Botanical garden/zoo

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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S. gigantea is distinguished from its closely related S. canadensis by having glabrous and glaucous stems. The shoots of S. canadensis are at least weakly hairy. The calyxes of ligule flowers of S. gigantea are longer than the tubular flowers of S. canadensis. S. gigantea has bright yellow flowers and the pappus is brownish-white, whereas the flowers of S. canadensis are somewhat lemon-yellow and the pappus silvery whitish.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control

The enormous infested grassland areas are effects of the poor previous management practices, and in grasslands, continuous mowing or grazing is necessary every year to prevent establishment of Solidago species.

Mechanical Control

Systematic mechanical control such as mowing is effective against Solidago species, and at least two mowings per year of the infested area are necessary. During restoration of grasslands, continious mowing can prevent flowering and rhizomes developing in the winter and during periods of vegetative growth.

Hartmann and Konold (1995) found that effective measures to reduce shoot density and vitality include mowing once a year and mulching, or mowing twice a year without mulching, over a period of 3 years.

Chemical Control

Germinating and young plants are sensitive to soil herbicides, but later, during the vegetative period, soil herbicides are ineffective. At heights of 10-15 cm, glyphosate, 2,4-D and several contact herbicides are suitable for the control of S. altissima. Herbicide use is required to control the weed in forest nurseries.

Biological Control

Although a number of natural enemies have potential as biocontrol agents (see Notes on Natural Enemies), none have been fully proven and developed (Sheppard et al., 2005).


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22/04/14 Updated by:

Gretchen Meyer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

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