Saturday, August 30, 2008
Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Today is a New Moon, and I celebrated by harvesting wild Goldenrod with my family. There's an old country road off the beaten path beside a big brown, muddy pond about two miles from my house, and the Glorious Goldenrod is proliferous there. Acres of yellow as far as the eye can see, along with Joe Pye Weed, Trumpet Vines, and Thistles. I've never seen so many bees and butterflies in my life! What a lovely day. Too bad that by the time I got home my camera batteries were dead and I couldn't upload them! My camera karma appears to be off lately. Technology and I do not jive. Thanks again to Wikipedia for providing a very nice pic for us. I do promise to post my pics when I replace my camera battery.
Goldenrod is a very common, widespread plant of the Asteraceae (Aster) family, and she grows in dry, sunny areas. Unfortunately, she has earned a reputation she does not deserve as a harbinger of late summer and fall allergies/hay fever. The lowly ragweed, green and inconspicuous, usually blooms at the same time as Goldenrod but lurks in the shadows and so her bright and beautiful neighbor takes the blame. The opposite is actually true ... Not only is she a sunny, friendly girl, Goldenrod is a very useful herb for the treatment of seasonal allergies and the red, itchy eyes and noses which accompany them. Matthew Wood states in his "Earthwise Herbal" that Goldenrod is specific for cat allergies. I'm hoping my friend Melissa, who suffers from a cat allergy, is going to test this for me in about six weeks, when my Goldenrod tincture is ready.
In "Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians", Patricia Kyritsi Howell lists other names for Goldenrod as Farewell-to-Summer, Aaron's rod, Woundwort (not Stachys palustris, a.k.a. Woundwort, a smelly European mint naturalized in North America), Sweet Goldenrod, and Anise-Scented Goldenrod. There are between 40 and 60 different species of Goldenrod, but the medicinal properties of most species are similar.
It was too late for me to harvest the leaves (a wonderful stomach tonic) on this late August day because the prime time for Goldenrod Leaf harvest is before she blooms. But bloom she does and so I've started a tincture using coarsely chopped flowers (easily stripped from the stems), filled but not packed into a quart jar, covered with 100 proof vodka, capped tightly, and labeled. I allowed the flowers to sit and dry a few hours before chopping. My tincture will be ready to use in six weeks, and I'll give it a gentle shake or two each day in the meantime.
My tincture will be not only be useful for allergies and upper respiratory inflammation/congestion but also for sinus infections, colds and flu, and kidney/bladder infections. Goldenrod is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antiseptic, and is a well-known kidney medicine, stimulating them to greater efficiency, particularly during times of disease or stress. Solidago virguauria, the European species of Goldenrod, has even been used to dissolve or eliminate kidney stones.
Goldenrod also makes a yummy medicinal tea (yes, I've tried it and it really is good), which is great for heartburn, indigestion, and diarrhea. Take that, Pepto Bismol! An infusion is a remarkable sore throat gargle. I used it with great success during a recent, nasty bout of strep throat, along with two Poke Berries, swallowed whole, and two dropperfuls of yarrow tincture in a little water every day with lots of good, clean water and rest.
I hope you find some Goldenrod where you live and give her a try. At the very least, give her a kind nod and a "Fare-thee-well."
Happy harvesting! :D