CPC Plant Profile: Blue Ridge Goldenrod
Search / Plant Profile / Solidago spithamaea
Plant Profile

Blue Ridge Goldenrod (Solidago spithamaea)

This picture is a closeup of the skunk or Blue-ridge goldenrod's flower head. Photo Credit: Robert Sutter
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Threatened
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • State: NC, TN
  • Nature Serve ID: 159226
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/10/1987

Blue ridge goldenrod is a perennial plant endemic to a very narrow range found on rock outcrops, cliffs, and balds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Solidago spithamaea grows from short stout rhizomes while erect stem is from 5-10 cm. tall and is usually unbranched below the inflorescence. It is known from only three populations and is Federally listed as threatened but State listed as endangered in both North Carolina and Tennessee. It is considered to be a relict a larger group of goldenrods abundant in more northern, alpine localities. The rock outcrops on which it occurs are exposed with no canopy cover and experience possibly the most extreme winter conditions in North Carolina and Tennessee (Sutter 1986). It is these open mountain summits that have been commercially developed, with the construction of observation platforms, trails, parking lots, roads, etc. that have directly impacted populations of this species, and the visitors who use these resorts often indirectly contribute to population decline. (USFWS 1990)

Participating Institutions
CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.
Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Confined to small areas on a few very high, rocky summits in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. There are 5 populations currently known to exist in NC. 4 of those populations are protected. Another 3 historical populations were extirpated by extensive recreational and residential development. However, the largest population currently known is thriving despite heavy recreational use of the site.

  • 01/01/2010

Trampling and habitat disturbance from heavy recreational use of habitat Acid precipitation and other forms of atmospheric pollution. (USFWS 1987)

  • 01/01/2010

Three populations are known, and the largest of these is thriving despite heavy recreational use (NatureServe 2001). Approximately 2000 plants were known when the Recovery Plan was written (USFWS 1987).

  • 01/01/2010

No research known.

  • 01/01/2010

Protection of existing populations and habitat.

  • 01/01/2010

Further study is needed in a number of areas, including: Specific management requirements Demographic studies of each population Pollination biology Seed dispersal Roles of biotic and abiotic environmental factors and disturbance on plant and population vigor The potential effects of acid precipitation Management needs include Searches for additional populations Implementation of management requirements when determined

  • 01/01/2010

Propagation techniques, further seed collection.


Be the first to post an update!

Taxon Solidago spithamaea
Authority M.A. Curtis
Family Asteraceae
CPC Number 4049
ITIS 36313
Common Names Blue Ridge goldenrod
Associated Scientific Names Solidago spithamaea | Aster spithamaeus
Distribution Avery and Mitchell Counties, NC, Carter County, TN (about 15 square miles total) (USFWS 1987)
State Rank
State State Rank
North Carolina S2
Tennessee S1

Rock outcrops, cliffs, balds, and ledges, generally at elevations higher than 4600 ft. (USFWS 1987)Often associated with another rare, endangered endemic, Liatris helleri, as well as Picea rubens, Geum radiatum, Scipus cespitosus, and Leiophyllum buxifolium (Sutter 1986, NatureServe 2001).

Ecological Relationships

The Blue Ridge goldenrod is considered to be one of the few southern representatives of a larger group of colder-climate, alpine goldenrods abundant in the northern US (USFWS 1987) . The Blue Ridge goldenrod populations probably occupied a much larger range and were continuous with the now northern species when the climate was cooler and moister. With the recession of the glaciers and the consequent warming and drying of the climate, the Blue Ridge goldenrod was relegated to the most alpine-like conditions in the Southern US. The plant flowers from July to September and reproduces by rhizomes and seeds. (Sutter 1986, NatureServe 2001).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

Donate to CPC to Save this Species

CPC secures rare plants for future generations by coordinating on-the-ground conservation and training the next generation of plant conservation professionals. Donate today to help save rare plants from extinction.

Donate Today