Though each species is unique, a few characteristics are common to all goldenrods. They all provide nectar for migrating butterflies and bees, encouraging them to remain in the area and pollinate your crops. Planting goldenrod near the vegetable garden can draw bad bugs away from valuable vegetables. Goldenrods attract beneficial insects as well, which may do away with damaging insects when they approach the food source offered by these plants.
More than a hundred varieties of goldenrod exist, with one for every climate. More than 70 are native to the United States. Goldenrod plants are clump-forming perennial wildflowers that exist on rainwater and add a golden beauty to the landscape. Do you want to bring in more butterflies, bees, and other life into your fall garden? Plant some goldenrod – or at least don’t mow it down as it is growing!
There is one thing that I want to straight about this beautiful fall flower. It has gotten a bad rap by some who blame it for making them sneeze. Goldenrod does not cause seasonal allergies as many tend to believe. No one is, no one can be, allergic to Goldenrod pollen. Why? Because it produces very little pollen to begin with and then its pollen is heavy and sticky and is transferred solely by insects rather than on the wind. So, because only wind-pollinated plants such as Ragweed, (which blooms at the same time and area as Goldenrod – hint: it is the ragweed making your eyes itch!) Goldenrod does not cause allergic reactions.
In fact, Goldenrod is a perennial plant that is well-known for its healing properties. This wild edible is a plant that reproduces through its roots, bulbs, stems and by its seed. It has been used as a healing plant by ancient peoples for centuries. Currently, there are some 140+ varieties of Goldenrod; therefore, it has a unique adeptness in crossbreeding with other plants. Nebraska declared a type of Goldenrod (Soldiago gigantea) the state flower in 1895.
All varieties of Goldenrod all are equally nutritious and boast many health benefits. Goldenrod can be used fresh or as a dried herb to make tea (although it is bitter), or as a fluid extract, tincture, or in capsules. If you want more information about collecting and using this herbal wonder research it online, find out more about it in the local library, or seek out a professional herbalist.
After learning the many benefits of planting goldenrod and the simplicity of goldenrod care, you may wish to include it near your garden. Growing and planting goldenrod is easy, as this plant will survive just about anywhere, though it does prefer to be grown in full sun. Goldenrod also tolerates various soil types as long as it’s well draining. Goldenrod care is minimal once established in the landscape, with plants returning each year. They require little, if any watering, and are extremely drought tolerant. Clumps need division every four to five years. Cuttings may also be taken in spring and planted in the garden.
- Distinguishing Features: Long wood like stems with spiky tooth like parts which are widely spaced, yellow flowers that grow in thick clusters.
- Flowers: Goldenrod flowers grow as an inflorescence in a broad or occasionally narrow pyramidal panicle. They can be anywhere from 2 to 16 inches high and nearly as wide. There are several to many horizontal branches, the upper sides of which carry numerous, densely crowded small heads of golden yellow flowers. Each individual flower head measures about 1/8 inch long and wide. Goldenrod flowers from mid-July well into September and October.
- Leaves: There can be wide variations in characteristics, but generally, goldenrod leaves are about 10 cm long and 2 cm wide, tapering to a point at the tip and narrowing at the base, with no leaf stem and small teeth around the edges. Three veins run parallel from near the base of the leaf. The underside of the leaf is hairy, especially along the veins and the upper side has a rough texture.
- Height: Most Goldenrod plants grow to be about three feet high.
- Habitat: There is no shortage of Goldenrod in September and October. This yellow plant can be found in moist locations, forests, fields, roadsides, compost piles, cultivated fields, and orchards throughout Texas and across the world.
- Edible parts: All aerial parts of the plant can be used. The flowers are edible and make attractive garnishes on salads. Flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) are used to make tea. Leaves can be cooked like spinach or added to soups, stews or casseroles. Leaves can be blanched and frozen for later use in soups, stews, or stir fry throughout the winter or spring
When I’m foraging goldenrod, I prefer to harvest the leaves just before the flowers open or when some are open, and others are just opening. Goldenrod is prone to powdery mildew and rust, so choose your leaves with care to avoid infected leaves. In fact, it is best to keep an eye on the overall condition of the plant when foraging goldenrod, harvesting from healthy, robust plants.
Goldenrod has so many uses! The leaves can be used in salves and some can be dried for winter teas. One of the most interesting pieces of trivia about goldenrod is it is one of the ingredients in colonial America’s “Liberty Tea.” When the country was being formed and tea was considered to be anti-patriotic due to King George and his taxes, people turned to herbs to make their teas, particularly after the Boston Tea Party. Goldenrod was among the herbs commonly used as alternatives. Others included chamomile, clover, roses, violets, monarda, mints, and dried berries. Tea blends were usually dependent on geography and what was available in a particular area or their gardens.
All of this and beauty too! Thank you, Mother Nature, for such a wonderful plant.