More sunlight, warmer air, longer days, it’s springtime. Having waited underground all winter, it is time to grow.
Early goldenrods (Solidago juncea) are named for their early flowering, but some could also be named for their early emergence. They have begun to grow along our road, down toward the highway where there is more exposure to sunlight. A few old stems from last year mark the patch, but marked or not, up they come.
It’s April, and really too soon to see the stems elongating from the rosettes of leaves. But it won’t be long.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, but already, there are small holes and notches chewed into a few of the leaves. The insects are emerging, too.
I’m also watching the patch of Canada goldenrod (S. canadensis) to see if any stems are evident among the early leaves. Not yet. But it won’t be long.
Growth of plants in the Northern Hemisphere will, from April to August, pull so much carbon dioxide out of the air that the concentration measured at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawai’i will decrease. It decreases every summer, only to be driven back up ever higher when the growing season is over.
Much of the annual growth of goldenrod will die and decay, returning carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. But some will remain underground in the roots and rhizomes and soil organic matter. I don’t know what the net result is for a field of goldenrods, but I suspect that there is some sequestration of carbon in the soil before they are overtopped by trees. In grasslands, they just kept storing it for thousands of years until humans broke the sod for their farms. Never underestimate a goldenrod.