Plants 20-100 cm; caudices branching. Stems 1(-5), erect, usually branching only in array, moderately to densely hispido-villous. Leaves: basal and proximal cauline tapering to winged petioles, blades oblanceolate to ovate, 35-210 × 15-50 mm, margins serrate or crenate, apices acute, sparsely to moderately soft hispido-villous, more densely so on abaxial nerves; rosettes on rhizome branches sometimes present at flowering; mid and distal cauline sessile, blades elliptic, 15-50 × 5-15 mm, distally reduced, margins entire. Heads 12-270 (1-15 per branch) in usually wand-shaped paniculiform arrays , of short axillary and terminal racemiform, non-secund clusters, sometimes proximal branches elongated, ascending and bearing short axillary and terminal racemiform clusters. Peduncles 1.5-2.5 mm, hispido-villous to canescent. Involucres campanulate, 3-5 mm. Phyllaries in 3-4 series, appressed, strongly unequal, oblong, margins white, scarious, apices obtuse to rounded. Ray florets 7-9 (white); laminae 3.5-4 × 1-1.5 mm. Disc florets 9-12; corollas 3-4 mm, lobes 0.6-1.2 mm. Cypselae (narrowly obconic) 1.5-2.5 mm, smooth or with 5-8 narrow, darker, sunken striations, glabrous or sparsely strigose; pappi 2.5-3.5 mm (sometimes strongly clavate). 2n =18. Flowering Aug-Oct. Sandy and clay soils, dry open woods, rocky slopes, disturbed soils; 0-1000+ m; N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., Ga., Ill., Ind., Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Miss., Mo., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
I am following other authors in maintaining this goldenrod and the next [Solidago hispida] as [separate] species although I do not believe they are of specific rank. I believe this species is only an albino form of Solidago hispida. I prefer to regard it as a fertile strain of S. hispida that has lost its power to produce yellow rays. I think this assumption is supported by the fact that there is a general reduction of the number of rays in the colorless forms. I have tried to separate this plant from the next one and I find that all characters used by other authors fail. Outside of Jefferson County S. bicolor is restricted chiefly to the unglaciated area of the state and is only rarely found a few miles outside of it. It is rather local and is found only on the crests and slopes of oak ridges or rarely in fallow fields.
Much like no. 8 [Solidago hispida Muhl.], but with white or whitish rays; invol 3-5 mm, its bracts whitish or light straw-colored except for the generally well defined light green tip; 2n=18. Dry woods and open, often rocky places; N.S. and Que. to Wis., s. to Ga. and La. Hybridizes with nos. 8 [Solidago hispida Muhl.] and 10 [Solidago erecta Pursh].
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.