Plant Profile Goldenrod
For the Foraging Journal entry today, we are going to cover Goldenrod. It is surprisingly obscure in the herbalism world for how easily it grows. The beautiful rods of gold shine through in late summer and early Autumn. I've bolded the sections that are in my Foraging Journal and I'm going to guide you through what to fill out. I would suggest writing what is pertinent to you in your own words, not word for word. This will help you recall information and helps your brain remember important information. I also suggest reading other sources - A Forager's Library is a terrific list of resources. You can read more about my Foraging Journal here.
Before we begin, this post is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Please do your own research thoroughly and take into consideration your own health. Don't eat or use something if you don't know what it is. Forage responsibly.
Latin name: Solidago spp.
What is Goldenrod's Latin name? Solidago is the genus. The "spp" means several species of that genus. Solidago virgauria or Solidago canadensis are two of the species.
The genus name comes from the Latin word "solidare" which means to make or become solid or firm. It also means to strengthen or consolidate or fasten together. This is an apt name because the herb is an astringent which mean it tones tissues and it is a vulnerary which means it aids the body in healing.
Medicinal / Edible / Both: It is both edible and medicinal. However some may not prefer the bitterness as an edible. One book suggested steaming the flowerbuds before they flower and compared it to broccolini. I tried steaming them with salt and a little oil but I was not a fan of the taste at all. So mostly I will select this as medicinal. It is true that some of the varieties will be tastier than others.
Season: The flowers, leaves, and flowerbuds are available late summer and early Autumn.
Nutrients: Goldenrod is a pretty amazing plant as it is a vulnerary (which means it heals), an astringent (which means it tones tissues and has a binding effect), diaphoretic ( causes perspiration, increases elimination), diuretic (increases urine flow), and carminative (relieves gas pain). Plus, goldenrod has more antioxidants than green tea! It also contains quercetin which naturally aids the body in reducing inflammation.
Does goldenrod cause allergies? No, goldenrod does not cause allergies! The actual culprit is ragweed. Goldenrod is not wind-pollinated. It's insect pollinated! And also can propagate by the root. Since goldenrod naturally contains quercetin, it can potentially reduce the body's response to allergies!
CAUTION: This plant is in the Asteraceae family/ daisy family. Avoid it if you allergies to sesquiterpenes.
Parts to harvest: Flowerbuds, Flowers, leaves
Harvest tips: I suggest taking only what you need and leaving plenty for others. No special equipment is needed but you might want scissors to snip at the base of goldenrod. Once you get the stems home, run your fingers down the stem to remove the leaves then snip off the flower tops.
Identifying characteristics: These are tall plants with golden "rods" of flowers at the top. They can range in height from 1 foot to as tall as an adult. However, they are normally between two and four feet. Lance-like leaves grow alternately up the stalk. They are hard to mistake once you see the original.
Notes about Harvest: As mentioned above, this plant is blamed for allergies but the usual culprit is ragweed. Goldenrod doesn't cause allergies because the plant is not wind-pollinated. Although people allergic to the Asteracaeae family should avoid it.
Goldenrod is often harvested to make a beautiful yellow dye.
It has been used to strengthen sinuses and help eliminate and move excess mucus. Goldenrod is also effective in clearing up kidney stones because of it's anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Which also explains why it has been used to help urinary problems!
Historically, it was also enjoyed as one of the liberty teas (more on that in this blog post).
Plans with harvest: My plans are often simple. I dry goldenrod for tea; I plan to make tea whenever there is a sinus or urinary issue. I also made an oxymel (recipe below) with fresh goldenrod. You can add the oxymel to warm water for a substitute to tea or even to salad dressings and sauces. Oxymels are an unique way to preserve fresh plant material without the use of alcohol.
Locations Found: It is often found in irrigation ditches or by the side or rivers and creeks. It is often in open meadows or wherever soil is disturbed. I've found it whenever we go high up mountain roads as well.
What is an easy way to use goldenrod? Besides tea or herbal infusion, my next best pick would be goldenrod oxymel!
1 part honey
1 part apple cider vinegar (with the mother)
Fresh goldenrod flowers and leaves
1. Fill the jar with fresh leaves and goldenrod flowers (a little bit of the stem is okay).
2. Fill the jar halfway with honey then top off with apple cider vinegar. I like to do equal parts honey and vinegar but you can choose if you'd like it sweeter (more honey) or more sour (more vinegar). Use a lid or plastic-wrapped lid so metal doesn't touch the apple cider vinegar.
3. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks. Shaking every once in a while and making sure plant material is submerged.
4. Then strain out the plant material. Cover and store in fridge or dark place for 6 months.