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Perennials.  Typical height is from 3 to 5 feet.  Colony-forming from long, creeping rhizomes.  Stems are usually densely pubescent throughout, often with rough hairs.  However, plants with sparsely pubescent to nearly glabrous stems may be found (infrequently).

Inflorescences are open, with numerous, ascending to widely spreading and recurved branches.  Branch leaflets, though smaller than stem leaves, tend to be conspicuous.  Flower heads are crowded and arranged one-sided on branches.

Flower heads are radiate.  Ray and disc floret corollas are bright yellow.

Basal and lowermost stem leaves are typically deciduous by flowering.  Mid- to upper stem leaves are numerous and crowded, larger toward the base of the stem, but only gradually becoming smaller upwards.  Leaves are characterized by sharply toothed margins, long, slender tips, and a "networked" (reticulate) pattern of veins (alternatively described as "feather-veined").  Stem leaves commonly lack petioles, or have extremely short petioles.

Plants of fields, roadsides, thickets and woods.  Flowers late August through September.  Native.

[ S. rugosa is morphologically very complex.  Two subspecies, with numerous varieties, have been described.  The only subspecies/variety present in central New York is S. rugosa subsp. rugosa var. rugosa.  Subspecies aspera is mostly found in coastal sections of the Northeast. ]

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Similar species:  Solidago ulmifolia.

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