Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Solidago canadensis
(Canadian goldenrod)



Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod)


  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Solidago canadensis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Canadian goldenrod
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • S. canadensis is an erect rhizomatous perennial plant native to North America which has spread throughout a number of European countries after its introduction as an ornamental.

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Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); habit and scale.
CaptionSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); habit and scale.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); habit and scale.
HabitSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); habit and scale.©István Dancza
Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); detached inflorescence.
CaptionSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); detached inflorescence.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); detached inflorescence.
FlowersSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); detached inflorescence.©István Dancza
Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); florets on detached inflorescence.
CaptionSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); florets on detached inflorescence.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); florets on detached inflorescence.
FlowersSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); florets on detached inflorescence.©István Dancza
Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); underside of leaves and stem.
TitleLeaves and stem
CaptionSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); underside of leaves and stem.
Copyright©István Dancza
Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); underside of leaves and stem.
Leaves and stemSolidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod); underside of leaves and stem.©István Dancza


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Solidago canadensis L.

Preferred Common Name

  • Canadian goldenrod

Other Scientific Names

  • Aster canadensis (L.) Kuntze
  • Doria canadensis (L.) Lunell
  • Solidago altissima var. gilvocanescens (Rydb.) Semple
  • Solidago canadensis f. canadensis
  • Solidago canadensis subsp. altissima (L.) O.Bolòs & Vigo
  • Solidago canadensis subsp. canadensis
  • Solidago canadensis var. canadensis
  • Solidago canadensis var. lepida (DC.) Cronquist
  • Solidago elongata Nutt.
  • Solidago hirsutissima var. hirsutissima
  • Solidago lepida DC.

International Common Names

  • Spanish: lechuguilla; vara de oro del Canadá; vara de San Jose
  • French: verge d'or du Canada

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: tango
  • Czech Republic: zlatobýl kanadský
  • Denmark: kanadisk gyldenris
  • Germany: Kanadische Goldrute
  • Hungary: kanadai aranyvesszo
  • Italy: verga d'oro canadese; verga d'oro del Canada
  • Netherlands: Canadese guldenroede
  • Poland: Nawloc kanadyjska

EPPO code

  • SOOCA (Solidago canadensis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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S. canadensis is an erect rhizomatous perennial plant native to North America which has spread throughout a number of European countries after its introduction as an ornamental. Moron et al. (2009) say that this species and the closely related species, S. gigantea have been among the most successful invasive species in Europe. It continues to be available from mail-order catalogues and websites of commercial nurseries and botanical gardens and as such further introduction of this species are likely. It is an undesirable invader on account of its large rhizomes, vigorous growth and allelopathic effects which lead to gross changes in the native vegetation and fauna. It is easily controlled by cultivation but difficult to control in natural areas due to its long persistence.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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S.canadensis is a highly variable species. The taxonomic status is not clear and is difficult to assess. In its native range in North America, several different taxonomic subunits have been recognised within the S.canadensis complex, which have been in the past granted species status by some authors (Beaudry and Chabot, 1957; Croat, 1972; Scoggan, 1979). However, no subspecies have been accepted by ITIS (2014). One former taxon, S. canadensis spp. altissima, or S. canadensis var. scabra, is now treated as a separate species, S. altissima, especially in Europe (Weber, 1997; Weber, 2000). European plants resemble ‘S. altissima’, although the exact taxonomic identity remains obscure and its origin in Europe has been described by Scholtz (1993) and Weber (1997). The several varieties previously recognised are no longer considered separate taxa, with the sole exception of S. canadensis var. hargeri (Harger’s goldenrod): all the others have been rolled into S. canadensis (GBIF, 2013; ITIS, 2014). The Plant List (2013) recognises Solidago canadensis var. lepida (DC.) Cronquist as a variety. Further revisions of the complex may still be expected.


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S. canadensis is a 25-250 cm (mean 150 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. Each rhizome has the potential to produce a single aerial stem arising from the apex of the rhizome in the following spring. Roots arise from the shoot base and reach a minimum depth of 20 cm. Stems are branched only in the inflorescence, glabrous at the base, weakly to densely pubescent at least in the upper half and often reddish. Plants of var. scabra have nodding shoot tips during growth. Leaves are triple-nerved, 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 lemon yellow, female and fertile, disc florets bisexual and fertile. The corolla is 2.4-2.8 mm long. Achenes are pubescent, 0.9-1.2 mm long, with a pappus of 2.0-2.5 mm.

Plant Type

Top of page Herbaceous
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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S. canadensis is native to Mexico, eastern and southern USA and Canada, between the latitudes 26°N and 65°N. In the USA, Weber (2003) and other sources indicate that it is non-native in western USA, though now present in many of the western states. It has been introduced to Europe and parts of Asia, especially China and Australasia (Webber, 2003). Owing to the lack of consistency in recognition of S. altissima as a separate species, some distribution records in the list for S. canadensis may more strictly apply to S. altissima, including the majority of those from Europe, where Weber (1997) suggests most populations belong to the latter. Records for Europe are taken from Flora Europaea (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014); however, this database does not list the distribution for S. altissima separately and Weber (2003) indicates in his datasheet on S. canadensis, that plants in Europe are referred to var. scabra (= S. altissima).

According to Pavek (2012) S. canadensis does not occur in the States of Alberta, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana and South Carolina, but other sources such as Wagner et al. (1999) earlier claimed that it does occur in Hawaii and earlier versions of USDA-NRCS claimed that it also occurred in the other States mentioned here. This may be the result of revisions in taxonomy.

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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Yin et al., 2003; Jin et al., 2004
-FujianPresentIntroduced Invasive Shen et al., 2007
-GuangdongPresentGuo et al., 2004
-HunanPresentIntroducedGuo et al., 2004
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedGuo et al., 2004
-JiangxiPresentIntroducedGuo et al., 2004
-ShanghaiPresentIntroducedGuo et al., 2004
-YunnanPresentIntroducedGuo et al., 2004
Georgia (Republic of)PresentEPPO, 2014
IndiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GujaratPresentIntroducedKhimani et al., 2005
-KarnatakaPresentIntroducedPatil and Reddy, 2005
JapanPresentIntroducedShimizu et al., 2001; EPPO, 2014; PIER, 2014
-HokkaidoPresentMorita, 2002; EPPO, 2014
-HonshuPresentMorita, 2002; EPPO, 2014
-KyushuPresentMorita, 2002; EPPO, 2014
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentNakagawa and Enomoto, 1975; EPPO, 2014
-ShikokuWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Morita, 2002
TurkeyRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive Terzioglu et al., 2003; EPPO, 2014

North America

CanadaWidespreadNativeScoggan, 1979; EPPO, 2014
-ManitobaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-Nova ScotiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-OntarioPresentNativeBradbury, 1973; Werner et al., 1980
-Prince Edward IslandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-QuebecPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
MexicoPresentNativeWeber, 2003
USAWidespreadEPPO, 2014
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ArkansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
-ConnecticutPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-DelawarePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IdahoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IllinoisPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IndianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IowaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-KansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-KentuckyPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MainePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MarylandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MassachusettsPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MichiganPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2014
-MinnesotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MississippiPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MissouriPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MontanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-NebraskaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-NevadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New HampshirePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New JerseyPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New MexicoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New YorkPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-North CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-North DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OhioPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OklahomaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-PennsylvaniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-Rhode IslandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-South DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-TennesseePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-TexasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-UtahPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-VermontPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-WashingtonPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-West VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-WisconsinPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-WyomingPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

NicaraguaPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2014

South America

BrazilRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedLoges et al., 2005
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedFrancine et al., 1999; EPPO, 2014


AlbaniaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
AndorraPresentIntroduced Invasive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
AustriaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
BelarusPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
BelgiumPresentIntroducedKabuce and Priede, 2010; EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
BulgariaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
CroatiaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
Czech RepublicPresentIntroduced Invasive Kabuce and Priede, 2010; EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
DenmarkWidespreadIntroducedEPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
EstoniaLocalisedIntroducedNOBANIS, 2014
Faroe IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
FinlandPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
FrancePresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
-CorsicaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
GermanyWidespreadIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
GreecePresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
HungaryPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
IcelandPresentIntroducedKabuce and Priede, 2010; EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
IrelandPresentIntroduced Invasive Kabuce and Priede, 2010; EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
ItalyPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
LatviaWidespreadIntroducedNOBANIS, 2014
LithuaniaWidespreadIntroducedSvirskis, 2004
MacedoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
NetherlandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Kabuce and Priede, 2010; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
NorwayPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
PolandWidespreadIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
PortugalPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
-AzoresPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
RomaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
Russian FederationWidespreadEPPO, 2014
-Central RussiaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
-Eastern SiberiaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
-Northern RussiaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
-Russian Far EastPresentIntroduced Invasive Ignatov, 1986; EPPO, 2014
-Southern RussiaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
-Western SiberiaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
SerbiaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
SlovakiaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
SloveniaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
SpainPresentEPPO, 2014
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
SwedenPresentIntroduced Invasive Kabuce and Priede, 2010; EPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
UKPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014
UkrainePresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014


AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Weber, 2003; EPPO, 2014
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014
-TasmaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014
-VictoriaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2013; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2014Coastal districts of south-western, north-western and southern areas
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2014
New ZealandPresentIntroducedWeber, 2003; EPPO, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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S. canadensis was introduced into Europe as an ornamental in 1645 (Kowarik, 2003); the species, being attractive and easy to grow was widely used by gardeners (Kabuce and Priede, 2010). The first observations of wild populations in Europe date back to about 1850 (Wagenitz, 1964). Weber (1998) investigated, from herbarium specimens and literature records, the pattern of its spread after introduction to Europe. Cumulative numbers of localities as well as numbers of occupied grid squares showed a continuous increase since 1850, within Poland (Guzikowa and Maycock, 1986) and within Europe (Weber, 1998). The spread of the species in area and time over Europe showed no clear front, with new localities separated by large distances colonised simultaneously. A large part of the present range of S. altissima was already achieved by around 1950; however, the data suggest that S. altissima will spread further in Europe, leading to an increase in abundance and areas where reported (Weber, 1998).

S. canadensis var. scabra spread rapidly in Japan in the 1970s. The extent of distribution, the date of first appearance, its habitats and plant associations were ascertained by Nakagawa and Enomoto (1975), who found the distribution of the weed was in the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area and the northern district of Kyushu where pure stands of the species were found, with a lower frequency in north-eastern Japan. The plant was recorded as altitudes up to 400 m and the weed may spread to mountainous or cold regions; with its entry into Hokkaido and Okinawa confirmed in 1975 (Nakagawa and Enomoto, 1975). S. canadensis was introduced to China in the 1950s (Guo et al., 2004).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia 1935 GBIF (2013) Earliest herbarium specimen recorded by GBIF
Austria 1838 Yes NOBANIS (2014)
Belgium 1863 Yes NOBANIS (2014)
China 1950s Yes Guo et al. (2004)
Denmark 1866 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Weber (1998)
Estonia 1807 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)NOBANIS (2014) Introduced to botanic garden
Europe North America 1600s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Wagenitz (1964)
Finland 1910 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)NOBANIS (2014)
Germany 1857 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Weber (1998)
Japan 1970s Yes Nakagawa and Enomoto (1975) GBIF, 2008, record earliest herbarium specimen from 1928
Latvia 1907 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes NOBANIS (2014)
New Zealand 1940 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Weber (1998)
Norway 1887 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Weber (1998)
Poland 1872 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Tokarska-Guzik (2003)
Russian Federation 1700s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)NOBANIS (2014)
Sweden 1864 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Weber (1998)
UK North America 1645 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Kowarik (2003)

Risk of Introduction

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It is possible for S. canadensis to naturalize in temperate regions of the world and it is a widespread wild and ornamental plant in Europe. 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).

S. canadensis continues to be available as an ornamental from mail order catalogues and web sites of commercial nurseries and botanical gardens and as such further introductions are likely.


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In its native range, S. canadensis is found mainly on forest edges and roadsides, abandoned fields and other unmanaged areas which are colonised rapidly after abandonment. In the introduced range, it occupies the same habitats as in the native range, but also occurs in dry meadows of high conservation value and in the edges of wetlands. As an exotic in Japan, S. canadensis is found frequently along riversides, roadsides and railways and is also abundant near houses and factories, but was absent from well-maintained and cultivated fields (Nakagawa and Enomoto, 1975). S. altissima is a species typically found in abandoned fields (Yamato et al., 1999; Weber, 2000). It is also reported from managed woodland edges.

Habitat List

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

Hosts/Species Affected

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In its native range, S. canadensis can occur in any crop, but 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 (Werner et al., 1980). In Europe, S. canadensis is considered an environmental weed (Weber, 2003) because it is a serious weed of forest edges, dry meadows, wetland edges, rail sides, roadsides and wasteland.

Biology and Ecology

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The basic chromosome number of S. canadensis is n=9 and there are diploid (2n=18) (Beaudry and Chabot, 1957), triploid, tetraploid and hexaploid forms (2n=54) (Melville, 1979; Semple et al., 1989, 1992; Kabuce and Priede, 2010) populations. In Europe, only diploid plants have been reported (Carano, 1921; Malecka, 1988; Musial, 1989). In Poland, plants belonging to S. altissima were found to have B-chromosomes (Malecka, 1989). It is likely that the diploid races of S. altissima existing in North America may represent possible ancestors to the plants introduced to Europe.

Beaudry and Chabot (1957) proposed a working hypothesis for the origin of the hexaploid (2n=54) S. altissima where it was produced as a result of hybridisation between diploid individuals of S. canadensis or S. lepida (2n=18) and the tetraploid (2n = 36) biotype of S. gigantea with subsequent doubling of chromosomes. However, Hulbert (1970) suggested that hybridisation between 10 Solidago species was limited by temporal reproductive isolation. Solidago x erskinei (S. canadensis x S. sempervirens) is known from the type locality in Prince Edward Island, Canada (Scoggan, 1979). In the native range, genetic variation in resistance to herbivores can exist within a population (Maddox and Root, 1987).

S. altissima is a highly variable species in its native range and genetic variation for life-history traits among and within populations is high (Werner et al., 1980; Gross and Werner, 1983; Pors and Werner, 1989). RAPD studies also confirmed high genetic variability in China (Huang and Guo, 2005). In Europe, high genetic variation was found both within and among populations in phenology and morphological characters (Schmid and Weiner, 1993; Schmid and Dolt, 1994; Weber, 1997; Weber and Schmid, 1998). The species shows clinal variation in Europe. Plants from northern populations flower earlier than plants from southern populations after transplanting them to the south. This variation has a genetic component and probably evolved after the introduction to Europe (Weber and Schmid, 1998). Hybrids between S. altissima and S. virgaurea have been reported from Denmark, Norway and Sweden (Nilson, 1976; Sunding, 1989) and from a few sites in Austria and the UK (Solidago x niederederi; Burton, 1980), however, they do not appear to be common nor be able to persist.

Reproductive Biology

S. canadensis is self-sterile and insect-pollinated. The major pollinating agents of S. canadensis are honeybees (Apis mellifera), bumblebees (species of Bombus), soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus) and syrphid flies (Werner et al., 1980). Cytologic details of the male and female gametophyte formation and fertilisation in S. canadensis are reported by Pullaiah (1978). About 55% of the pollen grains are viable and development of the embryo sac is of the Polygonum-type. The fruit of S. canadensis is an achene with attached pappus, readily distributed by the wind. For plants growing in an agricultural field in Michigan, USA, the mean number of achenes per stem was 13,000, but in a population inhabiting a native tall-grass prairie in Iowa, USA, an average of only 1100 achenes per shoot were produced (Werner, 1976; Werner and Platt, 1976).

Physiology and Phenology

S. canadensis is a rhizomatous hemicryptophyte and has a complex lifecycle with rhizome and seed propagation. Although seeds are essential for long-distance dispersal and the colonisation of unoccupied sites, they are not important for the expansion in established populations. It has been reported that cold-temperature exposure of seeds is necessary for germination (Root, 1971). However, Bradbury (1973) found that seed collected in southern Ontario, Canada before the first frost exhibited about 50% germination after 40 days, whereas 6-week storage at either 2°C or at room temperature did not affect germination levels appreciably. The larger the achene, the higher is the probability of germination (Werner, 1979). Seeds of European plants do not show dormancy and do not need scarification or stratification for germination (Voser-Huber, 1983). The optimum temperature for seed germination in southern Ontario populations is 25-30°C (Werner et al., 1980). Germination is frequent in abandoned fields and unmanaged grasslands, with the most suitable conditions for germination being the surface of undisturbed soils and gaps in uncut grasslands.

For establishment of S. canadensis, seed propagation is essential after which vegetative propagation becomes important. Rhizomes break dormancy at the beginning of April in central Europe, each rhizome producing only one shoot from its apical tip. After a brief period with scale leaves, shoot extension is rapid. The inflorescence first appears in late July and early August and new rhizome buds are normally visible in August but most rhizome growth occurs in autumn after fruiting is complete.

Seeds from North American plants germinated more easily after cold-stratification for 1-12 weeks (Walck et al., 1997). Although seeds are essential for long-distance dispersal and the colonisation of unoccupied sites, they are not important for the spatial extension of established populations. Intensive shoot growth starts in April and shoot height increases almost linearly until the end of July when final height is achieved (Meyer and Schmid, 1999a). The number of leaves per stem correlates strongly with shoot height.

Inflorescences are formed from June onwards. Flowering may start as early as the end of July, but the phenology of the plant varies considerably within and among populations (Weber and Schmid, 1998). Peak flowering time is between mid-August and the end of September, but flowering can continue through October. The small seeds are produced in large numbers (Weber, 2000). Seeds are easily dispersed by wind, but only in dry weather. They remain on the stem if it is wet and dispersion of seeds may continue during winter (Meyer and Schmid, 1999b). Rhizome buds are formed and grow to rhizomes in the autumn. Occasionally, rosettes may be formed in autumn, but normally rhizomes produce shoots in the spring of the next year and the main growth period for rhizomes is in late summer and autumn (Weber, 2000).

S. canadensis responds to damage caused by leaf-eating herbivores in developing thinner stems, lower specific leaf area and an overall reduction in size (Kleunen et al., 2004). Four cytokinins (zeatin, zeatin riboside, isopentenyladenine, isopentenyladenosine) have been identified in stem tissues and play a significant role in the gall-forming process after attack by Eurosta solidaginis (Mapes and Davies, 2001).

Invasion success of this species may, in part, be due to its production of allelopathic compounds and their effects on native vegetation, although some native plants can persist in its presence (Sun et al., 2006; Abhilasha et al., 2008). This effect is even more important if, as Yuan et al. (2012) have found, production of allelopathic chemicals is enhanced in countries.


Individual clones are long-lived and can reach an age of 100 years (Kabuce and Priede, 2010).


In its native environment in North America, S. canadensis is sometimes dominant or co-dominant in disturbed forest understories (Werner et al., 1980) and sometimes also in Midwestern prairies (Glenn-Lewin, 1980, cited in Coladonata, 1993). Coladonata (1993) quotes other authors in saying that, again in North America, common understory associates include Trifolium pratense, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Solanum carolinense, Solidago missouriensis, Cypripedium candidum, Geranium viscosissimum, Galium boreale and Pteridium aquilinum.

S. canadensis is a characteristic species of nitrophilous communities with tall forbs, alongside rivers (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. It forms extensive stands in Onopordetalia, Aegopodion and Alliarion communities and penetrates into abandoned Arrhenatheretea meadows (Oberdorfer, 1994). In Japan, the Erigeronto-Imperatetumcylindricae was characterised by the presence of many naturalized plants such as S. altissima and presence on consolidated dam slopes (Yamato et al., 1999).

Bees were observed visiting the flowers of S. canadensisand S. virga-aurea species at two localities in Tyrol, Austria, in 1979; with a total of 8563 bees belonging to 181 species being recorded. Flower visiting was analysed in relation to time of day, temperature and relative humidity and to date during the flowering period. Observations on marked bees, mainly Apis mellifera, showed that constancy to certain plants was high. On both species, honeybees were the main pollinators but they showed a preference for S. canadensis, which offers greater nectar and pollen rewards than S. virga-aurea (Schuler, 1982).

Environmental Requirements

The wide native geographic range of S. canadensis in North America and introduced range in Europe suggests a broad climatic tolerance and the great likelihood of ecotopic differentiation. S. canadensis can tolerate a fairly wide range of soil fertility and texture conditions (Werner et al., 1980). In fields which were experimentally fertilised, S. canadensis more than doubled its productivity the year following treatments, a significantly greater increase than that of most other species (Mellinger and McNaughton, 1975). Within the European and Japanese exotic ranges, S. altissima occurs from sea-level to mid-montane regions (0-800 m altitude).


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BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Tolerated Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Tolerated Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)
ET - Tundra climate Tolerated Tundra climate (Average temp. of warmest month < 10°C and > 0°C)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
65 45 0 800

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 2 25
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 25
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -10


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall4002000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In its native North America S. canadensis is apparently selectively grazed by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) (Irwin, 1985, cited in Coladonata, 1993; Werner et al., 1980). In parts of the USA it is apparently rated good to fair in palatability for cattle, sheep and horses (Dittberner and Olson, 1983, quoted in Coladonata, 1993).

The specialised North-American herbivores and pathogens are absent from Europe. Some generalist insects consume S. canadensis, but their effects are not significant on S. altissima. This is perhaps one of the keys to the invasiveness of species of Solidago. The phytophagous insect fauna on European S. canadensis was examined in Switzerland during 1992-93 and 18 of the 55 phytophagous insects were found to feed on S. canadensis; the specificity of the remaining 37 was not determined. The insects that have expanded their host range to feed on S. canadensis since its introduction to Switzerland are almost solely opportunistic, unspecialised ectophages not closely attuned to the growth cycle of S. canadensis. Only 4% of the insects were specialists and 9% were endophagous. In contrast, in North America, S. canadensis supports 25% specialist insects and 17% endophages. In Switzerland, the native S. virga-aurea supports more specialists (28%) and endophages (23%) than S. canadensis. The high number of phytophagous insect species found on S. canadensis in North America suggests that there is no shortage of possible control agents (Jobin et al., 1996).

Several herbivorous insects attack S. canadensis (including var. scabra) in the USA: the gall-inducing fly Eurosta solidaginis, the goldenrod elliptical-gall moth Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis and larvae of Trirhabda virgata (Pilson and Rauscher, 1995; Uriarte, 2000; Abrahamson and Heinrich, 2002; Nason et al., 2002). The chrysomelid beetle Microrhopala vittata specialises on S. canadensis var. scabra (Carson and Root, 2000).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

S. canadensis is propagated by seeds and rhizomes. Seeds are produced in very large numbers and long-distance dispersal is by wind. The distances travelled by seeds released from a parent plant form a leptokurtic distribution. Achenes released 1 m above the ground in winds of up to 5 m per second had a peak modal dispersal distance of 0.3 m, a mean of 0.6 m and a maximum of 2.4 m (Werner et al., 1980).

Accidental Introduction

Short-distance dispersal is possible by rhizomes through infested soil. 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.

Intentional Introduction

Long-distance dispersal of S. canadensis to date has been largely if not entirely for its ornamental value. Seeds are available via mail-order catalogues and websites of commercial nurseries and botanical gardens as an ornamental species and this may lead to further introductions.

Pathway Causes

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Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
MailInternet Yes
Wind Yes Werner et al., 1980

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx seeds
Fruits (inc. pods) seeds
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
Crop production None
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Livestock production None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

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S. canadensis is rarely a weed of annual crops but it has been recorded causing significant losses to wheat yields in China (Gu et al., 2006). It is also an alternative host of insects that can be vectors of crop pathogens. However, no quantitative studies on the economic impact are available. Poisoning of horses has been caused by large proportions of S. canadensis in hay feed in Germany (Chizzola and Brandstätter, 2006).

S. canadensis possibly exhibits allelopathic properties, as aqueous leaf and rhizome extracts affected seed germination and root growth of radish and lettuce (Butcko and Jensen, 2002). Similarly, Sawabe et al. (2000) demonstrated germination inhibition activity of acetylenes and terpenoids against lettuce in bioassays.

Environmental Impact

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Large areas infested by S. canadensis are often the result of the inappropriate land-use management, allowing it to establish and outcompete native plants resulting in gross changes negatively affecting both flora and fauna to the point where character species may disappear altogether. The dominance of the weed may be enhanced by allelopathy (Sun et al., 2006; Wang et al., 2006). Monoculture communities of S. canadensis homogenize the landscape; which is especially the case in Europe. In Slovenia, plant species richness and species richness, abundance and diversity of butterfly species were lower in plots dominated by S. canadensis (Groot et al., 2007). The impact of S. canadensis in China is reviewed by Lu et al. (2006) and there are serious concerns with regards to its spread

Moron et al. (2009) found that both plant diversity and cover were adversely affected by goldenrod invasion in Poland but more disturbingly the abundance, species richness and diversity of wild bees, hoverflies and butterflies were al reduced in the invaded wet meadows. The authors called for greater protection for insect populations and a unified effort to stop the invasion of goldenrod in Europe.

Social Impact

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Although species of Solidago are suspected of causing hay fever only occasionally, in dry, very windy weather, sufficient pollen is blown into the air to affect sensitive individuals (Frankton, 1963).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Poisoning
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Social Benefit

S. canadensis is a medicinal plant, with extracts made from the dry shoots harvested at the beginning of flowering and has been used in European phytotherapy for centuries as a urological and antiphlogistical remedy (Apati et al., 2003). An ethyl acetate extract from the roots of S. canadensis inhibited the growth of human gastric adenocarcinoma MK-1 cells in vitro and the compound, cis-dehydromatricaria ester (cis-DME), known to inhibit the growth of rice seedlings, was isolated as the active component. Inhibition was somewhat stronger towards three types of tumour cells than towards normal cells (Matsunaga et al., 1990). Uses of S. canadensis in China are reviewed by Lu et al. (2006).

Four acetylenes (alkynes) and three terpenoids were isolated from S. altissima roots and characterised. Five of the compounds, including (E)-dehydromatricaria lactone, which is reported for the first time from S. altissima, demonstrated germination inhibition activity against lettuce in bioassays (Sawabe et al., 2000). A study in Hungary suggested that acetone extracts of S. canadensis could have useful allelopathic effects on other weeds. Crude acetone extracts originating from the plants were found to be suitable for direct application as weed control agents when applied in comparatively large quantities (50-200 ml/12.5 m²). These extracts remained in the soil for less than 2 months (Solymosi, 1994).

Environmental Services

S. canadensis is cultivated as an ornamental plant in Europe and has been used as a bee plant. In north-eastern Croatia, it is still valued by beekeepers (Stefanic et al., 2003).

Uses List

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  • Amenity
  • Landscape improvement


  • Ornamental

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore


  • Cut flower
  • Propagation material

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The taxonomic status is not clear and is difficult to assess. A similar species, S. gigantea, is distinguished from S. canadensis by its glabrous and glaucous stems, larger flower heads with bright yellow florets and the brownish-white pappus. The calyces of ligule flowers of S. gigantea are longer than the tubular flowers.

Prevention and Control

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Physical/Mechanical Control

There are several mechanical control methods to combat S. canadensis stands. One effective method against Solidago species is mowing twice a year (May and August) for several years, or cultivation during summer in dry weather. After mowing, sowing of a grass/forbs mixture can control growth of S. canadensis stands resulting in a strong decrease in shoot density (Voser-Huber, 1983). After five years of annual mowing, the cover of the S. altissima was only 12% compared with 41% in uncut quadrats in Switzerland and fertiliser applications tended to reduce the cover of S. altissima in uncut quadrats (Joshi and Matthies, 1996).

Canada goldenrod reacts positively following low- to moderate-severity fires (Medve, 1984; Richards and Landers, 1973, both cited in Coladonata, 1993).

Biological Control

Biological control presents one method to manage S. canadensis, since it is known that biomass allocation and physiology of the plant in its native range are influenced by herbivores. In Europe, herbivore pressure is low. Snails and small rodents rarely feed on stems and leaves. In Switzerland, 18 phytophagous insects feeding on the S. canadensis are known (Weber, 2000).

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 (Fontes et al., 1994). 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) and there were eight insect species considered as possible biological control agents of Solidago spp. Eurosta sp. attacking roots, two leaf eaters (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.

S. canadensis is one of 14 selected species in a collaborative biocontrol project between USA and China (Ding et al., 2006).

Chemical Control

Germinating seedlings and young plants are sensitive to soil herbicides, but later, during the vegetative period, they become ineffective. At heights of 10-15 cm, glyphosate and several contact herbicides are suitable for the control of S. altissima, such as 2,4-D and picloram (Weber, 2003). Herbicide use is required to control the weed in forest nurseries. A mixture of fluroxypyr and metsulfuron has proven selective in wheat (Gu et al., 2006). Shen et al. (2005) treated S. canadensis on waste land and found sulfometuron, imazapyr, flazasulsufuron and chlorsulfuron to be most effective, followed by glyphosate and fluroxypyr.


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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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17/09/2014 Updated by:

Ian Popay, Landcare Research, New Zealand

15/04/2008 Updated by:

Chris Parker, Consultant, UK

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