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BRIEF: Is goldenrod harmful to sheep?


QUESTION:
I was reading an article that mentioned goldenrod and sheep. The article stated **Although goldenrod does not bloom until late summer, this plant grows slowly in fields from May through August. It may be harmful to sheep in any stage.** Would you have any information on this? I am afraid that the area that we just fenced in for our sheep may contain goldenrod.

ANSWER:

The kind of goldenrod that we have around here (many species of the Solidago genus) is harmless to sheep and just about everything else. Sheep eat it readily, but I wouldn't plant it as a forage, since the yield of leaves per acre is smaller than the good forage plants that might have grown in the same spot. So it is a weed, just not a toxic one. I am not even sure it is a hay fever hazard; its pollen is too heavy and sticky to blow around much so it gets blamed for allergies caused by other plants blooming at the same time. So even if people (or sheep) were allergic to it, it is hard to breathe enough pollen to do anything. BUT!!!!!!!! There is a plant that grows in the Southwest also called goldenrod by the locals (rayless goldenrod by the botanists), that is not from the genus Solidago, but is of the species Haplopappus heterophyllus. This stuff is nasty and contains a toxin (trematone) similar to the one we find in white snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) here in the Northeast. It can not only harm animals that eat it, but it is passed along in the milk.