Goldenrod, sweet goldenrod, also known as blue mountain tea, fills the countryside with golden yellow color as summer moves into its third act. These flowers are attractive sources of nectar for bees, flies, wasps, and butterflies. It plays host to many beneficial insects and repels pests. Most species are native to North America.
Did you know that Thomas Edison studied goldenrod extensively in his search for native plants with rubber content? It seems he was asked to find a more “local” source of rubber for his friends, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. At that time, in the 1920’s, these entrepreneurs and automobile pioneers had to rely on tropical sources of rubber which could be a problem if strife hit those countries. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison could not extract enough rubber-like substance from goldenrod to make the endeavor worthwhile.
Here is in this country Goldenrod was used by the Native Americans to treat wounds. The early settlers used it for several types of ailments as well. I make a salve using goldenrod flowers and leaves. Its one of several ingredients in my salve and I have a lot of testimonials for its effectiveness.
Botanical name: Solidago sps: Solidago has about 100 species of flowering plants in the family Asteracaea
Parts Used: aerial parts; does not usually flower till the second year; blooms continuously from July through fall in most regions;
Where Found: native to North America; one species, Solidago virgaurea is the only one native to Great Britain.
Uses: aromatic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic, astringent, One of the chemical components in goldenrod, the saponins, seem to be helpful with the Candida fungus which produces various types of fungal infections and thrush. Goldenrod leaves are most commonly used in tea form. Note it is difficult to find goldenrod in the health food industry as a tincture or capsule. This plant has an unfounded reputation as being the cause of hay fever. Please note:
“Toxicity: None known. Goldenrods are often blamed for causing hay fever because they flower during allergy season. However, the true culprits are ragweeds (Ambrosia spp.). Goldenrod flowers are mainly insect pollinated, so the flowers are showy to attract insects and pollen is relatively heavy and sticky compared to that of ragweed. It is unlikely that the wind-blown allergens affecting hay fever sufferers include appreciable amounts of goldenrod pollen.”
Ragweed is wind-dispersed and makes it the likely culprit for hay fever. So many folks insist that goldenrod is the culprit for their hay fever allergies. Yet the seed patterns do not seem to support this claim.
Whenever I take students on field walks I can usually find ragweed nearby, thriving next to goldenrods.
Goldenrod and others support wildlife and diversity. Galls form on stems and when left alone after summer bloom, they can provide homes and food to other wildlife. Downy woodpeckers and Chickadees, in particular, search for galls for winter food. Many bugs form the galls for their young. When deadened stems are left in fields, they provide food for many.
My podcast guest this week, Jane Seymour, describes and educates us on the role many meadow plants play in maintaining a holistic ecosystem. Meadows, fields demonstrate that many parts play a role in supporting the whole. Remember fields, whose appearance seems messy and haphazard, have a beneficial focus, most of which is hard to see. However, in my backyard meadow, I sit and listen to various bees create a hum that’s soothing on a hot summer’s day. I love the deep mustard yellows of goldenrods too, placed among the pinky purples of joe-pye weed and the purples of woodland asters as if some invisible impressionist painter stole in during the night. And, I watch the wildlife, the birds and other critters who hide out here.
Food, shelter, habitat, goldenrod fulfills an invaluable service to our community. For without our plants and plant communities, our insects suffer. If they suffer then we will too. We are all connected by an invisible web and while mysterious and splendid, we have much to learn. Nature is here to teach us.
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Enjoy your day. Judith