By Karen O Brien, Herb Society of America, Botany and Horticulture, Chair
Solidago – better known to all as goldenrod – is part of a healthy ecosystem. This truly American genus, including 77 species, is found in every state, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It was chosen by The Herb Society of America as the 2017 Notable Native Herb.™
It’s important to note that goldenrod has a mistaken reputation as a cause of hay fever. Its showy flowers generally bloom the same time as ragweed, the cause for that condition.
Goldenrod has been used as food, flavoring, beverage, medicine, fragrance, industrial, and in household applications. For example, Solidago odora, or sweet goldenrod, is fragrant when crushed, has been used as a tea, and has been explored for use in the perfume industry.
Many other types of goldenrod have been used medicinally, particularly by native American people. Solidago has a rich and impressive history of healing, for uses as varied as reducing fever, relieving toothaches, minimizing bruises and insect stings and treating kidney and bladder problems, among others.
Goldenrod excels as a pollinator plant, its blooming season serving as a late nectar and pollen source for bees, wasps, butterflies, and flies. Some birds feast on the seeds or leaves, as well as the caterpillars who patronize it. A few states have named Solidago as their state flower or wildflower, a befitting tribute to a plant whose attributes have been mostly neglected by the gardening world.
Think about adding it to your garden. Remember, goldenrod growing next to the door of your home marks the arrival of good fortune and myth has it that a baby washed in a bath prepared with goldenrod leaves will grow up to have a sunny disposition and a sense of humor.