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Goldenrod and Horsetail in their Natural Habitats

We are observing different species of plants that are in Iowa that grow in ditches, forestry areas, and places that aren’t typically disturbed by humans. Students will make comparisons of horsetail and goldenrod in different habitats. 

Calamus, Iowa

Driving Question

  • Why do these two plants tend to flourish in roadside ditches more than other plants?

Probing Questions

  • Why do you think the horsetail is hollow inside? 
  • Why might goldenrods be invasively found in ditches?
  • As you looked at the pictures, what similarities and differences did you notice between the two plants?

Classroom Suggestions

  • The phenomena can support students in comparing and contrasting different plant features and habitats. 
    • Students can research to see if they can find what are the differences between horsetail and goldenrod. They can either come up with their own questions or they can follow some of the questions below for a start.
    • Do these two plants serve the same purpose?
    • Are any of the plants invasive (meaning they spread very easily and can take over areas)?
    • Why does goldenrod have blooms/flowers and horsetail doesn’t?
    • How do the plants spread?
  • Students could either find if these plants grow in the same habitats or different.
    • Do these plants grow together in the same area or can they grow separately?
    • Do these plants grow in different areas in the U.S.? Do they grow in different parts of the world?
    • Compare these plants with other plants in the area. 

Relevant Related Resources



        Iowa Core Alignment


        Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats

        Credit Info

        Phenomena submitted by Lauren Von Muenster, Kaitlyn Kilstofte, and Sydney Durbin.

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