Western goldenrod (Euthamia occidentalis) is a multiple-stemmed forb (herbaceous flowering plant other than a grass or sedge) that grows in abundance along the moist edges of Putah Creek. Its otherwise unobtrusive form begins to stand out among the verdant edges of Putah Creek and other local waterways during this time of year – between July and November – when it bursts into bloom, producing a bountiful bouquet of yellow blossoms at the top of each plant.
Western goldenrod loves water; it grows throughout California and the western United States in marshes, meadows, and along streambanks and irrigation ditches at elevations below 7,500 feet. Spreading vegetatively via rhizomes (underground stems), it is able to form colonies with well developed root systems. This and its tolerance to salinity and clay soils make it a valuable plant for streambank stabilization and erosion control projects.
Western goldenrod lends biodiversity and important pollinator habitat to restoration projects, providing a source of late season nectar for native bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.
A decoction, or extract, of the root was taken by the Chippewa and Ojibwa Indians as a treatment for chest pain and lung trouble. Some sources report that the leaves of various goldenrod species may also function as an antiseptic.
Keep an eye out for the bright yellow of Western goldenrod during your late summer visits to the banks of Putah Creek!
(Header photo ©2015 Andrey Zharkikh)