Happy Autumn! Our field is ablaze with gold from the tall goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) growing everywhere. I love the golden color of this plant and it has an interesting history in the USA. After the Boston Tea Party, the American Colonists drank sweet goldenrod tea, calling it “Liberty Tea,” to replace the English tea that they had dumped into the Boston Harbor. Liberty Tea became so popular that it was even exported to China.
Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod does not cause hay fever. It has very little pollen grains which are heavy and sticky and meant to be carried by insects; in contrast to ragweed pollen which is spread by the wind (airborne pollen). HA, actually, the only way to get goldenrod pollen in your nasal passage is to stick the actual flower up your nose! 😉
The goldenrod growing in our field is Tall Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), which tends to have galls growing in the tall stems. Using the Handbook of Nature Study, I made a goldenrod study packet for the Little Ladies to guide them in studying this beautiful plant. You can download the free goldenrod packet here.
Now, for the medicinal goodness of this plant. A favorite herbalist of mine, Susun Weed, has many medicinal ways to use goldenrod:
Goldenrod tonics are easy to make. Harvest any goldenrod by cutting the top third of the plant in full flower on a sunny fall day. Or, respectfully pull the entire plant, roots and all, in the late autumn or early winter. Then follow the simple directions below. Note: You can use any size jar when making a vinegar or a tincture, so long as you fill it full.
To dry flowering goldenrod (goldenrod tea): Bundle 2-3 stalks together and hang upside down in a cool, shady room until thoroughly dry. When the stalks snap crisply, store the dried herb in brown paper bags. One or two large handfuls of crushed leaves and flowers, steeped in a quart of boiling water for thirty minutes makes a tea that can be used hot, with honey, to counter allergies (especially pollen allergies), fevers, sore throats, coughs, colds and the flu; or taken cold to relieve colic in babies, and gas in adults. Dried mint and/or yarrow are tasty, and useful, additions when making goldenrod flower tea.
To dry goldenrod roots (goldenrod tea): Rinse dirt off the roots, then cut away all the stalks, leaves and dead flowers. If possible, hang your roots over a woodstove to dry; if not, place them on racks and put them in a warm place to dry until brittle. Store in glass jars. Depending on the difficulty you are addressing, goldenrod root tea may be made with large or small amounts of the roots brewed or decocted in boiling water. Or the roots may be powdered, alone or mixed with flowers, and applied to hard-to-heal wounds and sore joints.
To make a goldenrod vinegar: Chop the goldenrod coarsely, filling a jar with chopped flowers, leaves, stalks (and roots if you have them); then fill the jar to the top with room-temperature, pasteurized, apple cider vinegar. Cap it tightly with a plastic lid. (Metal lids will be eroded by the action of the vinegar. If you must use one, protect it with several layers of plastic between it and the vinegar.) Be sure to label your vinegar with the date and contents. Your goldenrod vinegar will be ready to use in six weeks to improve mineral balance, help prevent kidney stones, eliminate flatulence, and improve immune functioning.
To make a goldenrod tincture: Chop the goldenrod coarsely, filling a jar with chopped flowers, leaves, stalks (and roots if you have them); then add 100 proof vodka, filling the jar to the very top. Cap tightly and label. Your goldenrod tincture will be ready to use in six weeks, by the dropperful, as an anti-inflammatory, a sweat-inducing cold cure, and an astringent digestive aid. Medical herbalists use large doses (up to 4 dropperfuls at a time) of goldenrod tincture several times daily to treat kidney problems — including nephritis, hemorrhage, kidney stones, and inability to void — and prostate problems, including frequent urination.
I also like to make a goldenrod oil for achy muscles and joints. Fill a jar with chopped flowers and leaves and cover the plant material with a carrier oil (sesame, olive, almond, or grapeseed). Cover and place in a warm windowsill for 3-6 weeks; shaking daily. Strain and bottle. Rub the oil on sore muscles and joints. Enjoy!