Seasonal Allergies: Don’t blame goldenrod!

When allergy season comes around, people begin to blame goldenrod for their hay fever, when in fact, this plant is completely innocent! The bloom of the flamboyant goldenrod just so happens to coincide with the flowering of ragweed, the true plant to blame. 

Goldenrod vs. Ragweed:

Goldenrod is a highly beneficial native species of flower. Goldenrod has heavy grains of pollen, which have no other way of reaching another goldenrod flower except for the hard work of a pollinator. This plant completely relies on pollinators in order to reproduce, and in turn offers them a food source. The pollen from this flower has no way of reaching the human nose to cause allergies simply because it is too heavy to get there.

Ragweed, on the other hand, is a wind-pollinating plant, meaning that it’s pollen becomes air-borne and floats along the wind until it lands somewhere. Of course, the goal is to reach another ragweed plant and successfully reproduce, but this can be quite difficult due to the inaccuracy of wind-pollination. To make up for this, ragweed produces very high quantities of pollen, which irritate the noses of people with seasonal allergies.



Goldenrod, tends to shoulder the brunt of the blame for seasonal allergies, simply because it is visible. Below are photos of goldenrod and ragweed, and you can certainly see why goldenrod is the one that gets the bad rap.

Goldenrod, shown left, sports striking yellow flowers. The bright colouring is produced in order to attract insects to carry its pollen. Ragweed, shown right, blooms at the same time, but is barely noticeable. This is because ragweed has no incentive to spend energy on pigment; it doesn’t require the attention of any insect. Instead, it has small and discrete green flowerheads that release pollen. 

When the plants are not flowering, they can be identified by their leaf structure. Goldenrod has narrow, horizontal, grass like leaves. Ragweed has fern-like leaves similar to marigolds. 

Allergy-sufferers can safely grow goldenrod in their garden and have nothing to worry about if it is present near their home. Next time you see goldenrod, remember that it is not a pesky weed, but a beautiful flower that is beneficial to native pollinators. 


By Christine Macpherson


OPPOSE proposal by Nelson/Lafarge to blast 124 acre hole in the Escarpment ( Unesco World Biosphere Site) in Burlington

From our friends at PERL (Protect Escarpment Rural Lands)
Oakvillegreen stands in support of PERL and CORE Burlington

Please write to the City of Burlington before August 21st, 2020. (contact info below)
Dear Lovers of the Niagara Escarpment,

PERL is again having to oppose a new attempt by Nelson / Lafarge Aggregate to open up two new below-the-water-table quarries on the Mount Nemo Plateau in Burlington, on some of the same lands that was Denied in 2012 by the Consolidated Joint Board, because of unacceptable ecological risks. Also, recall that the last 2004 Nelson Aggregate application was voted down by the NEC, Halton Region, City of Burlington, and Conservation Halton.
The Niagara Escarpment can not be subjected to yet more open-pit mining, with already over 40 licensed quarries in its ecologically sensitive backbone. The environmental carnage to our most sensitive natural heritage treasures has to stop. There already are 25 licensed pits & quarries within 50 km of Burlington. Halton Region alone has 22 active pits & quarries, extracting ~7 million tonnes of aggregate per year, one of the largest aggregate mining Municipalities in Ontario. With an estimated 50 years of licensed aggregate supply in Ontario, we don’t need another quarry.
We are still reviewing the 19 Nelson Aggregate reports / studies, and have yet to hire technical peer review Experts. Thus far we have major concerns with groundwater quality and supply, species at risk, air quality & dust, surface water quality and supply, final rehabilitation, importation of construction waste fill, loss of more prime agricultural lands, heavy truck safety and speeds, blasting, and noise.
We are asking that you, your organization, write letters of opposition. Hundreds expressed their opposition to mining out the Niagara Escarpment last time. We are counting on you again.

We ask that send you send your written input opposing the new Nelson Aggregate Quarry application by August 21st to:

Department of Community Planning, City of Burlington

P.O. Box 5013, 426 Brant St.
Burlington, ON L7R 3Z6
Attn: Brynn Nheiley
Phone: 905 335 7642

PLEASE copy us on your email so that we may keep track of the submissions for a likely future Consolidated Joint Board appeals process at

Please see the attached document for the official City of Burlington notice.

Thank you, be well.

Roger Goulet

PERL Executive Director


Bee Week: The importance of Ontario’s native bees

Did you know that Ontario is home to over 400 species of bees?  Usually, when we think of bees, we think of honeybees, hives, and swarms, but most of the bees that call our province home actually don’t produce honey at all and are solitary. Honeybees aren’t even a native species!

We all understand the important role that social bees, like honeybees, play in pollination. 

We need pollinators for ⅓ of the food we eat, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. However, over 90% of our bees are solitary, and they are particularly efficient pollinators. These bees do not possess pollen baskets on their legs, so instead of holding pollen, it falls off their legs. This means that they move more pollen between flowers than their honeybee cousins. Pollination is critical to the health of Oakville’s ecosystems and these bees are essential to sustaining biodiversity.

As if solitary bees didn’t already have enough going for them, they are also non-territorial, never swarm, and rarely sting. Solitary bees are quiet heroes!


Oakville is home to many species of solitary bee, some of which are:


Leafcutter bees

Leafcutter bees are small, gentle creatures that will almost never sting. They cover the outside of their nests in leaf cuttings, which is where they get their name.


Carpenter bees

Carpenter bees are a larger species that are actually able to chew through wood in order to make their nests. You may be able to recognise a carpenter bee tunnel because they leave a pile of sawdust outside of the entrance. They look quite similar to bumblebeesbut are all black. 

Miner bees

Miner bees “mine” tunnels into the ground in order to lay their eggs. The female bee creates chambers branching off the main tunnel for her eggs.


How do solitary bees reproduce?

Solitary bees don’t have a colony and a queen, so each individual female lays her eggs in her nest. Solitary bees have a wide range of nesting locations, including wood, plant stems, and even in snail shells. Female bees create their nests and then cover the entrances with leaves, mud, or hair. 

The female bees gather pollen and nectar throughout the spring and summer for a nest where they lay their eggs. Over the winter, the eggs hatch into larvae, feeding on the pollen and nectar deposited by their mother to sustain themselves. They hibernate in the cocoon for 11 months throughout the summer and winter. The next spring, the larvae pupate into baby bees and emerge from their nests, just as the first flowers begin to bloom. The lifespan of solitary bees is usually very short (4-6 weeks outside of the nest) so the mother will never see her offspring. 

These bees may not be buzzing around flowers for very long, but they are vital to the health of ecosystems in Oakville and around the world. 


How to protect bees:

We can all do our part to protect bees in our area! Below are a few options to help preserve bee populations:

  • Plant native Ontario wildflowers in your garden
  • Select plants that bloom at different times, from spring to fall, to provide a food source for bees throughout the season
  • Reduce or eliminate pesticide use on your property
  • Leave a mulch-free space in your garden for ground-nesting bees

Protecting our native bees is crucial in protecting our city’s biodiversity as a whole. Solitary bees pollinate crops, wildflowers, and backyard gardens. Positive change is possible and we can do so much to care for our native species. Healthy bees make a healthy ecosystem!


By Christine Macpherson