Goldenrods have finished blooming in central Massachusetts. They have also finished preparing for the future
The flowers produced seeds, one per flower, each with an embryo and a wind-catching pappus that could colonize a new location, maybe nearby, maybe far away. The seeds hang on to the parent plant, but the time it takes for them to leave varies enormously. Some break free quickly, and the last are still clinging to the old plant in the spring. Their variation probably increases the chances that at least some of them will be successful. If they all went at once, they might all get lucky – or they might all fail if there is some disaster that befalls the group. So spread them out over time and hope that some seeds will succeed. Of course, most will fail. That is the way with seeds.
The also vary genetically, most (all?) of the pollen having come from other plants, some nearby, some far away. These diverse offspring are mostly like their parents, but not identical. Will some grow better than their parents and leave lots of offspring? Maybe.
Goldenrods are perennial plants, sprouting up each year from tissues that have spent the winter or dry season underground. During the growing season, they produce new roots, and new rhizomes. The rhizomes are stems, botanically speaking, that spread underground. They don’t spread that far in any one year, and there might not be that many of them. But each year, if they succeed, they can take over a little more ground and make their clone a little more abundant in their habitat. Over time, they can take over a lot of land.
Some species of goldenrods from North America become invasive weeds when introduced into other continents. By seed and rhizome, they take hold and expand, just as they do in their original locations. They are among the many perennial weeds that have found ways to expand vigorously. Of course, there will be bad times and bad locations, and they will not take over the world. But they will keep trying.