This May, botanical artists from 25 different countries are showcasing their country’s native plant species through simultaneous exhibitions of botanical art in a unique event called Botanical Art Worldwide. The “groundbreaking collaboration between botanical artists, organizations, and institutions worldwide” will “call attention to the importance of conserving our botanical diversity,” according the website. In each country, the exhibition of botanical art will include a slide show of images from other participating country’s exhibits.

Canada’s exhibit, titled Art of the Plant, takes place at the Canadian Museum of Nature from May 10 through October 14, 2018. I’m happy to be one of the participating artists. The piece that I entered into this juried exhibit is, perhaps not surprisingly, a painting of goldenrod (below).

goldenrod galls illustration

Solidago altissima with Procecidochares atra galls watercolor illustration © Emily S. Damstra

Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod is neither a worthless weed nor the cause of hayfever. Instead, it’s a beautiful native wildflower with enormous ecological value. This painting, based on a specimen found in my backyard, features one of the many associations between insects and Late goldenrod. Fly larvae (Procecidochares atra) induced the plant to form sixteen little rosette galls, which ornament the stem like green flowers. This goldenrod paid the price for spending so much energy creating galls; no golden blossoms beckoned to pollinators in late summer. Fortunately for Solidago altissima, it can also reproduce via underground rhizomes.

I gratefully acknowledge funding support of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.