Blue Ridge goldenrod
Description: Blue Ridge goldenrod is a small perennial herb (4 to 8 inches tall). Its golden-yellow flowers appear from late July to September, and fruits form and ripen from July to October. Although there are many species of goldenrods, this one can be distinguished by its flat-topped flowers, small stature, smooth foliage, and toothed, non-clasping stem leaves.
Habitat: This species occupies rock outcrops, ledges, and cliffs at high elevations (generally above 4,600 ft.). The soils upon which this species grows are generally shallow and acidic. Blue Ridge goldenrods usually grow in full sun.
Range: Blue Ridge goldenrod is only known from Avery County, NC, and the border area between Mitchell County, NC and Carter County, TN.
Listing: Threatened, March 28, 1985, Federal Register 50:12306-120309.
Critical Habitat: None designated
An exotic insect, the balsam woolly adelgid, is contributing to the decline of the fir forests adjacent to some of the cliffs where Blue Ridge goldenrod grows. Although the goldenrod does not grow beneath dense forests, the death of the adjacent forests is resulting in drier and hotter conditions. All of these factors may threaten the last remaining populations of Blue Ridge goldenrod.
Why should we be concerned about the loss of species? Extinction is a natural process that has been occurring since long before the appearance of humans. Normally new species develop through a process known as speciation, at about the same rate other species become extinct. However, because of air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands, and other man-induced environmental changes, extinctions are now occurring at a rate that far exceeds the speciation rate.
All living things are part of a complex and interconnected network. We depend on the diversity of plant and animal life for our recreation, nourishment, many of our lifesaving medicines, and the ecological functions they provide. One-quarter of all the prescriptions written in the United States today contain chemicals that were originally discovered in plants and animals. Industry and agriculture are increasingly making use of wild plants, seeking out the remaining wild strain of many common crops, such as wheat and corn, to produce new hybrids that are more resistant to disease, pests, and marginal climatic conditions. Our food crops depend on insects and other animals for pollination. Healthy forests clean the air and provide oxygen for us to breathe. Wetlands clean water and help minimize the impacts of floods. These services are the foundation of life and depend on a diversity of plants and animals working in concert. Each time a species disappears, we lose not only those benefits we know it provided but other benefits that we have yet to realize.
What you can do to help: