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Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

Life history

Species overview

Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found in hardwood forests along Lake Michigan. Blooming occurs late August through late September; fruiting occurs throughout September. The optimal identification period for this species is early August through late September.

Synonyms: Solidago axillaris, Solidago caesia var. axillaris


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Cylindrical (terete) stem covered with a bluish-white, waxy coating; widespread.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescence chiefly axillary, sometimes branched; ray florets 1 to 5; disk florets 5 to 8.
  • Fruit characteristics: Hairy achenes.
  • Leaf characteristics: Chiefly cauline, may or may not be serrate, acuminate,smooth or slightly hairy, lanceolate or lance-ellipitic, 6 to 12 cm long by 1 to 3 cm wide, tapering to sessile or obscurely short-petiolate base.


  • Blooming phenology: late August through late September
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early August through late September


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Fagus grandifolia, Tilia americana, Quercus alba, Q. borealis, Erythronium americanum, Podophyllum peltatum, Smilacina racemosa, Geranium maculatum.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Solidago caesia in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in hardwood forests along Lake Michigan.
  • Soils: Rich, sometimes clayey soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Bluestem Goldenrod. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Southern Dry-mesic Forest 3
Southern Mesic Forest 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Bluestem Goldenrod. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Southern Lake Michigan Coastal 3

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.


Bluestem Goldenrod Photo.

Bluestem goldenrod reaches its range extremities in rich, maple-beech forests in the southeastern corner of Wisconsin. Milwaukee County.

Photo © B. Summers.

Bluestem Goldenrod Photo.

Photo © Richard Bauer.

Bluestem Goldenrod Photo.

Photo © B. Summers.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition