Goldenrod season

I feel sorry for all the people who are allergic to goldenrod, but it’s in full flower today.
Here is some in our back yard

Goldenrod field
Goldenrod field

The local insects think the pollen is delicious.

Goldenrod pollen - honeybee
Goldenrod pollen – honeybee
Goldenrod pollen - bald faced hornet
Goldenrod pollen – bald faced hornet

I found this on the ground in the forest. Why is it not on the tree and why is it this strange colour? It’s months before fall, isn’t it?

Maple leaf - first fall
Maple leaf – first fall

Woodpecker and goldenrod galls

We have many, many goldenrod plants in this area – they are common everywhere, though when I was very young, my grandfather had an allotment and I remember that he had goldenrod growing around the shed.  One of my earliest memories.

Goldenrod are very susceptible to galls.  Almost every stem has at least one. These are made by the plant as a result of an insect sting.  The resulting gall provides food and shelter to the insect grub.  The insect is the goldenrod gall fly.

I noticed a downy woodpecker on the weed stems in my garden, where I usually see chickadees and juncos. Unusual, as woodpeckers aren’t big seed eaters.  Then I realized it was eating the gall fly larvae.  Once it had gone, I checked out the galls. Every single gall had a large hole in it, much bigger than the exit hole normally made by the fly, when it hatches out the next spring.  

Woodpecker on galls
Woodpecker on galls
Goldenrod Gall after woodpecker
Goldenrod Gall after woodpecker