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Goldenrod, Subbing for the Rubber Plant?

Making It Grow Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.  You might enjoy hearing some fun facts about goldenrod since it’s blooming everywhere now. Carolina’s AC Moore Herbarium lists over thirty different species of goldenrod, in the genus Solidago, collected here; some grow all over while others occur in only a few counties. Our state wild flower is Solidago altissima, sometimes listed as Solidago canadensis. According to the Sciway website, when rubber prices skyrocketed during World War I, Henry Ford asked Thomas Edison to find a native plant that could yield a substitute  so he could keep manufacturing tires and such. Lo and behold, our ubiquitous goldenrod was the answer. As our roadsides and fields make obvious, goldenrod is easy to grow and can actually yield lots of latex when processed. But cheaper synthetic rubber came on the market and so our farmers grow fluffy white cotton instead of fields of gold. 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.