Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
No other group of plants better signal the beginning of the end of the summer growing season than the familiar goldenrods. Rigid goldenrod is one of the most common native plants in North Dakota, and is also found from Ontario to British Columbia south to New Mexico, at elevations up to 7,500 ft.
This goldenrod is one of the easiest to recognize because, in flower, the top of the plant is nearly flat. Another characteristic valuable for identification is the lower leaves which are large, oblong, and long-stalked. The leaves are greenish-gray, and roughened because of numerous short, stiff hairs. About a dozen small flower heads, each containing twenty to forty tiny yellow flowers, are clustered on several branches at the top of the plant. Rigid goldenrod grows up to three feet tall from thick perennial roots. Fruits are ribbed achenes bearing bristles to aid dissemination by wind.
Rigid goldenrod either receives some use as forage when livestock numbers are high or else propagates more successfully under the better soil moisture conditions that result from moderate or light grazing, because the plant is more common in pastures that are not heavily used.
This goldenrod is a member of the large sunflower family (Asteraceae) that has nearly two hundred representative species in North Dakota. The genus gets its name from the Latin solidus, "whole," probably in allusion to the reputed properties of the goldenrods to heal wounds. Rigida means "stiff" in botanical Latin. Rigid goldenrod was first described for science by the Swedish father of modern plant nomenclature Carl von Linne (Linnaeus) in his monumental Species Plantarum of 1753.