CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Solidago albopilosa

Brian Jorg

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Solidago albopilosa

Common Name: 
White-haired Goldenrod
E.L. Braun
Growth Habit: 
CPC Number: 


Profile Links

 Forest Service

Solidago albopilosaenlarge
Photographer: Brian Jorg
Image Owner: Brian Jorg

Solidago albopilosaenlarge
Photographer: Brian Jorg
Image Owner: Brian Jorg

Solidago albopilosa is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Valerie C. Pence contributed to this Plant Profile.
The initial writing of this profile was funded by the U.S. Forest Service

Solidago albopilosa

Solidago albopilosa is a herbaceous perennial tetrapoloid goldenrod, 1-2 ft in height, producing bright yellow, fragrant flowers from September to November and setting seed from October through December. It was discovered by Dr. E. Lucy Braun in 1940 and officially described by her two years later (Braun, 1942). S. albopilosa resembles S. flexicaulis, but is distinguished by its habitat, white hairs on the stems and leaves, decumbent habit, and leaves "so thin that coarse print is readable through [them]" (Braun, 1942). All occurrences are found within three counties in the Daniel Boone National Forest, in the Red River Gorge area, with a few on private inholdings. The plants grow in sandstone rockhouses, many of which were used historically as shelters by Native Americans. This very limited habitat is threatened particularly by recreational activities, including hiking, rock climbing, camping, and illegal digging for Native American artifacts, which result in physical disturbance and soil compaction. Although some of the original occurrences have been extirpated, some new occurrences have been found in recent years. Protective measures have been taken for those most vulnerable to damage by recreational activities. Searches for the plant in suitable habitat in neighboring counties have not been successful, although not all possible sites have been found.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
State Range of  Solidago albopilosa
  S. albopilosa grows between 800 and 1300 ft elevation in the mixed mesophytic region of the Eastern Deciduous Forest. It is found only in sandstone rockhouses, in sandy soil and on ledges, with a soil pH of 4.5-5.0. It grows behind the drip-line of the overhanging sandstone in a partially shaded environment and does not occur in the darkest portions of the rockhouses and only rarely in open sunlight.

  S. albopilosa is found only in the Red River Gorge area of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Menifee, Powell and Wolfe Counties in Kentucky.

Number Left
  82 sites in 32 occurrences in three counties of Kentucky (White and Drozda, 2006).


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Kentucky S2 T  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  The flowers of S. albopilosa are visited by both bees and syrphid flies (Braun, 1942; USFWS, 1993), and pollinators can likely travel between plants in closely situated rockhouses. The viability of pollen is high (Andreason and Eshbaugh, 1973). The seeds are wind-dispersed and seedlings have been observed in the field. The plant is also rhizomatous, but the importance of vegetative reproduction for this species has not been determined.

Other associated species in the rockhouse habitat include: Actaea pachypoda, Adiantum pedatum, Arisaema triphyllum, Cornus florida, Dioscorea quaternata, Disporum lanuginosum, Heuchera parviflora, Hydrangea arborescens, Medeola virginiana, Microstegium vimineum, Mitchella repens, Pilea pumila, Polystichum acrostichoides, Rhododendron maximum, Silene rotundifolia, Thalictrum clavatum, Toxicodendron radicans, Viburnum acerifolium, and (rarely) Trichomanes boschianum (Braun 1942, Andreason and Eshbaugh 1973, Kral 1980, Campbell et al., 1989).

  • Hiking
• Rock climbing/rappelling
• Camping
• Illegal digging for archeological artifacts
• Invasive species (Microstegium vimineum and Miscanthus sinensis)
• Logging

Current Research Summary
  • Early work on S. albopilosa determined that it was a tetraploid (n=36) (Beaudry, 1959), in contrast to S. flexicaulis (n=18), a wider-ranging woodland species that occurs in the same forests as S. albopilosa. More recent work has shown that forms of S. flexicaulis in the western part of its range, including Kentucky, are also tetraploid (Semple et al., 1984; 1993).
• Genetic work has investigated the possibility that S. albopilosa arose as a hybrid between S. flexicaulis and S. caesia, a species known to hybridize with S. flexicaulis. Results indicate that it is unlikely that S. albopilosa is of hybrid origin from these species and that it is not closely related to either species. However, it is most similar to S. flexicaulis, and may have arisen from it as an ancient autopolyploid (Esselman and Crawford, 1997).
• A study of the effects of ozone on S. albopilosa indicated little effect at the concentrations tested (Mavity and Berrang, 1994).
• An assessment was made of the impact of recreation on S. albopilosa and found that 85% of the sites assessed were impacted and in one-third of these, the impact was severe (White and Drozda, 2006)

Current Management Summary
  Simple, low fencing has been used to delineate the areas where S. albopilosa is growing in areas that receive higher traffic, and the fencing is generally respected by the public. Some trails have been rerouted to move them away from areas with S. albopilosa, and signage has been used to alert those using the forest of the need to conserve the S. albopilosa habitat (D. Taylor, pers. comm.). Forest Service policies on logging are used to protect S. albopilosa from the direct effects of logging and to protect sensitive cliff-line plants (USFWS, 1993).

Research Management Needs
  Continued monitoring of the plant and protection from recreational activities.

Monitoring Efforts
  Monitoring of the species is done by Kentucky Natural Heritage Program of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission on an annual basis, as well as by the U.S. Forest Service (White, pers. comm.).

Ex Situ Needs
  • Seed from different occurrences should be banked ex situ
• Plants of representative genotypes should be grown ex situ


Books (Sections)

Kral, R. 1980. Management plan, Solidago albopilosa E.L. Braun. In: A.F. Robinson, editor. Endangered and threatened species of the Southeastern United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Electronic Sources

Flora of North America. (2006). Solidago albopilosa. [website]. http://www.eFloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=250067533. Accessed: 2008.

KSNPC. (2006). Kentucky Rare Plant Database: Solidago albopilosa. [website]. http://eppcapps.ky.gov/nprareplants/details.aspx?species=Solidago+albopilosa. Accessed: 2008.

NatureServe. (2008). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. [Internet].Version 7.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. Accessed: (June 17, 2008).

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2008). Plants Database. Solidago albopilosa. [website ]. http://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch?keywordquery=Solidago+albopilosa+&mode=sciname&submit.x=20&submit.y=13. Accessed: 2008.

U.S. Forest Service. (2007). Threatened, Endangered, and Proposed (TEP) Plant Profile. Solidago albopilosa, white-haired goldenrod. [website]. http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/rareplants/profiles/solidago_albopilosa/index.shtml . Accessed: 2008.

Journal Articles

Andreasen, M.L.; Eshbaugh, W.H. 1973. Solidago albopilosa Braun, a little known goldenrod from Kentucky. Castanea. 38: 117–132.

Beaudry, J.R. 1959. Solidago albopilosa and S. flexicaulis. Castanea. 24: 53-54.

Braun, E.L. 1942. A new species and a new variety of Solidago from Kentucky. Rhodora. 44: 1-4.

Esselman, E.J.; Crawford, D.J. 1997. Molecular and morphological evidence for the origin of Solidago albopilosa (Asteraceae), a rare endemic of Kentucky. Systematic Botany. 22: 245-257.

Semple, J.C.; Ringius, G.S.; Leeder, C.; Morton, G. 1984. Chromosome numbers of goldenrods, Euthamia and Solidago (Compositae: Astereae). II. Additional counts with comment on cytogeography. Brittonia. 36: 280-292.

Semple, J.C.; Zhang, J.; Xiang, C. 1993. Chromosome number determinations in family Compositae, tribe Astereae, V. Eastern North American taxa. Rhodora. 95: 234-253.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1988. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; determination of threatened status for Solidago albopilosa (white-haired goldenrod). Federal Register. 53: 11612-11615.

Walck, J.L.; Baskin, J.M.; Baskin, C.C. 1996. Sandstone rockhouses of the Eastern United States, with particular reference to the ecology and evolution of the endemic plant taxa. The Botanical Review. 62: 311-352.

White, D.L.; Drozda, N.C. 2006. Status of Solidago albopilosa Braun (white-haired goldenrod) [Asteraceae], a Kentucky endemic. Castanea. 71: 124-128.


Campbell, J.; Towles, D.T.; MacGregor, J.R.; Cicerello, R.R.; Palmer-Ball, Jr., B.; Medley, M.E.; Olson, S. 1989. Cooperative inventory of endangered, threatened, sensitive and rare species: Daniel Boone National Forest. Stanton Ranger District. U.S. Forest Service.

Esselman, E.J. 1995. The genetic diversity and origin of a rare Kentucky endemic, Solidago albopilosa (Asteraceae: Astereae). Final report submitted under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cooperative agreement to Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.

Harker, D.F. Jr.; Medley, M.E.; Phillippe, L.R.; Hannan, R.R.; Phillippe, A. 1981. Rare plants of eastern Kentucky and the Daniel Boone National forest. Final Report. Frankfort, KY. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.

Medley, M.E. 1980. Status report on Solidago albopilosa E. L. Braun. Atlanta. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Norris, S.J.; Harmon, P.J. 2000. Report of survey for white-haired goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa) in southwestern West Virginia. Elkin, West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

Palmer-Ball, B., Jr.; Campbell, J.J.N.; Medley, M.E.; Towles, D.T.; MacGregor, J.R.; Cicerello, R.R. 1988. Cooperative inventory of endangered, threatened, and sensitive and rare species, Daniel Boone National Forest. Frankfort, Kentucky. Somerset Ranger District, Technical Report, Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission.

USFWS. 1993. Recovery plan for White-haired goldenrod (Solidago albopilosa). Atlanta, GA. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. p.33.


Francis, S.W. 2003. Plant communities of the sandstone rockshelters in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. [Ph.D. dissertation]: University of Kentucky. Lexington, Kentucky.

Higgins, P.D. 1968. A preliminary survey of the vascular flora of the Red River Gorge of Kentucky. [Master’s Thesis]: University of Louisville. Louisville, Kentucky.

  This profile was updated on 6/11/2010
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