Asteraceae, the daisy, sunflower, or composite family.
Plant: Upright, mostly smooth, terminally branching stem, 2'-4', with numerous narrow leaves topped by loose, rounded clusters of small, yellow flower heads.
Flowers: Small, yellow heads about 1/4" long, with 10-20 ray flowers and 8-12 disk flowers, in rounded terminal clusters (panicles) containing both small leaves and flowers.
Leaves: Alternate, linear to lanceolate, narrow and pointed, 2"-4" long, with mostly smooth margins. Mostly with three, sometimes five veins.
Fruit: Dry, seed-like, on downy hairs.
Habitat: Old fields, roadsides, sometimes brushy areas with woody plants.
This plant was formerly classed with the goldenrods (genus Solidago);
recent genetic studies made the case for a new genus.
The new common name, Goldentop, was created at the same time.
The plant is also known as Flat-top Goldenrod, Lance-leaf Goldenrod
(though another species, S. lancifolia,
native to the Southeastern US is more often called that) and
Very common in our area, growing mixed with Canada Goldenrod
(Solidago canadensis), though not usually in such dense stands.
Where to find it:
Scattered in open areas throughout the park, often in association with the
more common Canada Goldenrod.