Goldenrod: Weed, Herb or Wildflower?
Early Fall is a time of transition in North Georgia. It is still mostly hot as the dickens during the day, but a cool breeze blows in occasionally for welcomed relief. Early mornings and evenings are nice and cool as the humidity during this time tends to be lower. It is a time for the softer colors of spring and summer to give way to new, vibrant autumn color.
Out in the fields and wastelands, at the edge of the forest and along roadsides, my favorite wildflower is at its peak. The goldenrod is like a wild golden-haired girl who wants to come home. Most think of her as a weed. Perhaps she has been grossly misunderstood.
Ragweed or Goldenrod
Along about the time goldenrod appears, her nasty cousin ragweed starts spreading her free-blowing pollen causing hay fever among the masses. Some tend to blame their problems on our golden girl when in fact, her pollen is too heavy to become airborne.
The lovely goldenrod has run rampant through the fields and mutated with other weeds or wildflowers to produce numerous species. These species are called invasive in some areas. So what? She's not the only one. Look at all the different false dandelions that exist all over the world today.
Although there are no high quality studies to prove so, goldenrod is thought to have health benefits in the following areas.
- used topically as a wound healer
- liver enlargement
- internal bleeding
- mouth and throat inflammation
Many people consider goldenrod to be a health-healing herb. A few animal and test tube studies suggest that goldenrod may help with the following conditions:
- reducing inflammation
- relieving muscle spasms
- fighting infections
- lowering blood pressure
It has been proven that goldenrod has diuretic properties. Europeans have used it to treat UTIs and kidney stones for years.
Like dandelion, the parts of the plant above the ground can be used for making teas and tinctures. Unlike the dandelion, the roots are not consumed.Goldenrod supplements are available in capsule form. It is recommended that one seeks advice from a doctor or botanical medical expert (could be a pharmacist) before using dandelion supplements. Goldenrod can interact with other herbs and medicines.
Get Tincture of Goldenrod
Goldenrod and the Food Web
Lots of different insects and their predators get free room and board with the goldenrod. Some of these insects lay eggs within her. As the eggs hatch, the goldenrod provides incubation for the larvae. A tiny ecosystem is formed that becomes a larger part of the food web.
How Goldenrod Benefits the Garden
Birds,bees, butterflies and many other insects visit the goldenrod, helping to spread her heavy pollen. If there are other flowering plants nearby, this animal life will visit them as well. In this way, our golden girl attracts pollinators to the garden.
Elm Branched Solidago rugosa Miller
Goldenrod Flowers Identification
Our golden girl has cross-bred several times over to produce any number of a variety of species in any one local. Because they look so similar, these species have been difficult to isolate and identify. Scientists finally grouped them generally into categories according to shape.
The following chart highlights the general shapes, types, scientific names and brief discription.
Guide For Wildflower Identification
Goldenrod Classified According to Shape
9 to 15 flower rays, flowers on upper part of stem
slender one-sided plumes, groups of flowers form a crest
plume-like or elm-like shape, flowering branches curve downward
10-16 flower rays, flowerhead is narrow
Solidago uliginosa Nuttall
long,broad cluster of flowers, likes moist woodlands
Solidago graminifolia & Euthamia graminifolia
flowers grow in clusters, grass-like leaves on stems
umbrella-shaped head that is flat-topped
large umbrella-shaped head massive tiny yellow flowers
Uplands White Goldenrod
white flowers 1 cm wide 10-25 ray flowers per head
long, slender stem
tiny hairs on stems and leaves
ray and disk florets, sticky flowers, found on shores of Lake Huron
scattered clusters in leaf axile, smooth purplish stem
Solidago rugosa Miller
scaly stems, elm-branched with clusters of flowers
Goldenrod in the Garden
Now that we know all the benefits of goldenrod, perhaps it is time to bring her in from the wilds and tame her for our gardens. Goldenrod will attract pollinators to our winter gardens of kale, lettuces and other greens.
Goldenrod is hardy growing in zones 2-8. they propagate by both the spreading of seeds and the spreading of underground rhizomes. A variety of goldenrod seeds are available for purchasing on-line to make growing goldenrod in the garden more convenient.
Plant seeds in flats in spring or summer. Make sure that they are exposed to plenty of sunlight. Goldenrod will look especially good growing alongside purple salvia and assorted asters.
The goldenrod's stiff stems make her a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements. These arrangements are sustainable, practical and inexpensive. They are great for all those fall events from luncheons to weddings.
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