Goldenrod is a perennial wildflower found worldwide. To most it is a weed but to many it is a beautiful wildflower and in some areas of Europe and recently in North America it is cultivated. Ecologically, it provides food for many insects and foraging animals. Many allergy suffers despise the appearance of goldenrod in the late summer and fall, believing it to be the cause of their hay fever. This assumption could not be farther from the truth. Light, wind-born pollens are the culprits for allergy sufferers. Ragweed which blooms at the same time has dull, bland flowers. Why have them if you don’t need to attract insects for pollination. Golden rod has heavy pollen and relies on insects for cross-pollination. Their brightly coloured, showy flowers evolved to attract their pollinators which include flies, bees and butterflies. Don’t be a hater of goldenrod if you have allergies. They are not to blame.
A member of the Aster family, most Goldenrod species show bunches of
bright yellow-gold flowers – hence its name! In Ontario, four species are common: Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Early Goldenrod (Solidago juncea), Late Goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), and Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima) although all of them are common in much of North America. These species grow anywhere from 1 to 2 meters and show their beautiful yellow blooms from summer to early fall. Late fall and winter, their fuzzy beige seeds are visible while waiting to be distributed by fall and winter winds. You will find these attractive wildflowers in fields and open areas. They are often among the first plants to colonize cleared land, reproducing by underground stems (rhizomes) and seeds. All goldenrods share several distinguishing features: they have long woody stems with spiky tooth-like parts that are widely spaced and yellow flowers that grow in thick clusters. In general, their leaves are about 10 cm long by 2 cm wide and taper to a point. There is no leaf stem but each leaf edge has tiny teeth. The top of the leaf is rough in texture while the bottom is hairy.
This engaging wildflower does not cause allergies but it does have some interesting chemical properties that make it a useful, healing herb.
- Goldenrod can be made into a tasty, black-licorice flavoured tea using its leaves and flowers. Check out this link at the blog Annie’s Remedy for a recipe.
- It has been used as an herbal remedy for combatting hay fever symptoms. Check out this link at the blog Know Your Roots to make a goldenrod tincture (concentrated liquid extract of goldenrod) to avoid using over the counter allergy remedies.
- Goldenrod contains tannins which have astringent properties making it useful to heal wounds.
- They also contain flavonoids and saponins making them a useful diuretic (getting rid of excess fluids).
- They contain a chemical called leiocarposide making the plants useful as an anti-inflammatory to reduce pain and swelling.