Solidago speciosa is a perennial herb 30 cm to 1.5 m tall from a woody root crown, stem hairless except near top.
Leaves alternate, large, to 30 cm long, 4.5-10 cm wide, thick, smooth, secondary veins rather obscure, margins mostly entire, basal leaves toothed, tip pointed, base contracted to long stalk, stem leaves 18-40, decreasing in size upwards.
Flowers yellow, showy, relatively large, of two types in small heads, rays 6-8, 0.3-0.5 cm long, disk flowers 7-9, bracteate base 0.3-0.5 cm tall; inflorescence dense, hairy, 3-40 cm tall, pyramid-shaped, branches pointing sharply upward, crowded along a central axis, spike-like, flowers on all sides of branches; pollinated by insects mainly bees (Abrahamson and Gadgil 1973); blooms Aug.-Oct.
Fruit dry, achenes, hairless (glabrous); wind dispersed, seeds eaten by birds and small mammals, plants eaten by rabbits and deer (Martin et al. 1951).
Wetland status: UPL.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Habitat: Open, upland woods, edges, meadows.