Dear Dr. Hill,
On July 5, this plant was in full sun at the border of an open field in the SC fall line countryside.
Hello again, Diane!
This is a difficult one to identify, though I can tell you that it is one of the common goldenrods – Solidago sp. The leaf cluster at the top is not normal, it is most likely being caused by an early insect gall which will expand as it gets older. These are commonly found in field goldenrods. There are several species of goldenrod that it could be. There are more than 30 species of goldenrod in the Carolinas! Flowers would likely help for an identification, but it is still difficult even with flowers.
Steven Hill, Botanist, SCNPS