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My husband suffers from bad hay fever in the fall. We've always thought goldenrod is a major contributor. Recently we were told that ragweed, which looks similar, is more likely to cause the allergy and its related discomfort.

In our yard there are many plants with clusters of bright yellow flowers, which bloom in the late summer, early fall. They're lovely, and the birds, bees and butterflies like them. Assuming that they're goldenrod, and making my husband sick, I usually pull them shortly after they bloom. If indeed they are goldenrod, but not likely to be the allergen, I'd prefer to leave them until they've completely gone by. However, if they're ragweed, I'll know that I should pull them before the pollen flies.

I don't like removing any flowers, so understanding how to tell what they are would help me make an informed choice as to how to proceed next fall.

I'd appreciate a good definition of both goldenrod and ragweed, with some identifying characteristics, and links to pictures.

I'd also like to know if my own are goldenrod, ragweed, or both. Unfortunately, my pictures are very blurry, especially the flowers, so an identification may not be possible. I have a few other pictures with different views, but the quality isn't much better. They went by a number of weeks ago, so I can't get you anything new. Clicking on them will make them bigger and more close-up, in case that helps.

Whole bush enter image description here Just the stem Blurry close-up of flowers View of back side of leaf

  • I love solidago! I grow it on purpose. I've also got major hayfever...all my life. Didn't stop me from haying or riding or anything. Then came the motorcycle. Talk about infusing one's sinus with...mostly grass pollens. Get hubby to the doc. Nasal steroids work INCREDIBLY well. Takes a few weeks to get the spray working but WOW. Wish this stuff had been around when I was younger. So easy. And now, I have forgotten I ever had hayfever (so bad the whites of my eyes swelled up, eeeeuuuuw). Check with doctor...this stuff is prescription only...worth it!! – stormy Nov 13 '16 at 4:52
  • Sue this is your question! Sorry about hubby, does he garden as well? Don't allow 'allergies' to ruin time spent outdoors. Seriously, 'Nasacort' or Triame...forget it. There is a generic 'Nasacort'. Couple of squirts per day and it is like you never had hayfever. Someone will come along to tell me this stuff makes people go crazy...grins!! – stormy Nov 13 '16 at 4:57
  • @stormy I know you're wondering why I'm asking a question about getting rid off things in the garden! I specifically asked it to avoid having to do that! Sweet hubby sometimes does veggies, but not flowers. He does help with clean-up, which is why I don't like making him sick. He used to use Nasacort daily, but found Flonase helps more, so I recommend that to any allergic gardener who might read this. It doesn't make him go crazy at all, that's my job!! – Sue Nov 13 '16 at 16:22
  • He DOES use Nasacort or Flonase? Is he asthmatic as well? Sigh, I am of the mind that our body can adapt to stuff it seems to be sensitive to...I hate doctors telling us that we are allergic to such and such. Just that bit of info from a dude or dudette in a white coat is enough to actually show symptoms. Just my opinion of course. Hey, I have JUST found I am allergic for real to BANANAS!! I am unbelieving. Grrrr. How weird is that? Felt anaphalactic shock coming on, threw up? No way!! Argghhh, I love bananas. Haven't talked with my doc yet. Nasacort didn't help hubby? – stormy Nov 14 '16 at 20:59
  • Has he tried using a simple face mask? – stormy Nov 14 '16 at 21:00
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None of these pictures show ragweed. These are all goldenrod. Goldenrod can be allergenic but has pollen too heavy to be carried by wind and is very much unlikely a culprit of hay fever.

Ragweed has dissected, feathery leaves and less showy flowers than these. Alas, even if you pulled all the ragweed in your yard (if you had it) it would not help allergies. If it grows in your neighbourhood's proximity, it will affect those allergic to it.

enter image description here

  • Hi Brenn! I appreciate the answer and this gives me a chance to say how fortunate we are that you've joined us! You're kind to people and care about plants, and have an amazing capacity to identify things, even when you don't have a lot of detail. There are a few other people around here that can do that (myself not included!) and now that we have you, the site is getting even better! – Sue Nov 14 '16 at 23:58
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    @Sue You are kind to say that. I very much enjoy helping people with identification. If a positive ID leads to helping people overcome maladies, even better than to simply put a name to a flower. – Brenn Nov 26 '16 at 3:52
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I did an answer already, then realised you're asking about ragweed, not ragwort.

Ambrosia trifida (ragweed) has variable leaves, sometimes palmate, sometimes tripartite, often with a few oval leaves as well, and the flowers are yellow, usually upright spikes. It produces spiny burrs which stick to clothing and footwear, which is one of the ways it spreads. Images and info here: Giant Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida).

As far as I can tell from your photos, none appears to be ragweed, they mostly all look like various forms of Solidago (goldenrod) but perhaps you could compare the image of Ambrosia with your own plants; if one of them does produce spiny burrs, then that needs examining closely, but I'm not seeing any leaves which fit the picture for ragweed. I'm not sure what the plant in the bottom right photo is - its not Solidago, but it doesn't look like ragweed either.

  • I agree, I thought ragweed was a big grass...with far different seed heads. I remember crawling through 3'-4' thick stemmed grasses and coming out with the whites of my eyes swollen over the iris. But from what I have been seeing this cute Brenn knows his shit! He comes from a family of major major gardeners. – stormy Nov 14 '16 at 21:02

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