Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece'
Common Name: goldenrod
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Clay Soil, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Prefers somewhat fertile soils. Tolerates poor, dry soils. Remove spent flower clusters to encourage additional bloom. This is a rhizomatous, spreading, somewhat weedy species that can rapidly colonize an area by creeping rhizomes and self-seeding. Removal of flower heads (deadheading) prior to ripening of seed, if practicable, will help prevent unwanted self-seeding.

‘Golden Fleece’ is more compact and better behaved than the species, and makes for a better garden plant. It may be massed to create a somewhat tall ground cover.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Solidago sphacelata, commonly known as short-pappus goldenrod or autumn goldenrod, is a rhizomatous, upright, herbaceous perennial that typically grows to 2-4’ tall on erect to arching, alternate-leaved stems. It is native to open woods and rocky places, particularly in calcareous soils, from Virginia to Illinois south to Georgia and Mississippi. Heart shaped basal leaves (to 5” long) with serrate margins have long petioles. Stem leaves are smaller. Tiny, bright yellow flowers bloom August to October in panicle-like inflorescences. Flowers appear on one side only of the spreading branches. Pappus bristles are very small, firm, and much shorter than the achene (hence the common name). Flowers are attractive to bees and butterflies. Good cut flower.

Genus name comes from the Latin words solidus meaning whole and ago meaning to make in reference to the medicinal healing properties of some species plants.

Specific epithet means appearing dead.

Goldenrods in general have often been wrongly accused of being not only nuisance weeds but also the cause of hay fever which is actually an allergic reaction caused by wind-borne pollen from other plants such as ragweed.

‘Golden Fleece’ was discovered as a compact spontaneous seedling growing in a garden in Eden, North Carolina in 1985. It was evaluated and subsequently introduced into commerce by Dick Lighty of the Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware. It won the Internationale Stauden-Union’s Award for outstanding new plant in Switzerland in 1994. This compact cultivar rises to only 15-18” tall, but features small rounded leaves plus sprays of tiny golden yellow flowers which bloom late summer into early fall (August to October) in dense plume-like panicles appearing on stiff, alternate-leaved, multi-branched stems. It will slowly spread over time to 30” wide or more. Hardy to zones 4-8. Rosettes of toothed, heart-shaped foliage form an attractive, low-growing, mat-like, dark green cover when plants are not in flower.


No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf rust is an occasional and sometimes significant problem. Also susceptible to powdery mildew and leaf spot. Root rot may occur in poorly-drained soils. Potential insect pests include several different types of beetles, aphids and gall-forming insects. Plants can be aggressive spreaders in optimum growing conditions, but are generally not considered to be invasive.

Garden Uses

Species plants grow in somewhat unexceptional mounds of green foliage until the flowers explode into bloom in late summer. This is an end-of-the-season perennial which provides brilliant yellow flowers for the late summer to fall landscape. Best grown in perennial borders, rock gardens, wild gardens, meadows or naturalized areas.

‘Golden Fleece’ is more compact that the species and is generally less aggressive in the garden. It can be massed to form an attractive ground cover. It may be grown in containers.