Perennial plant growing to 28 in (70 cm). Has toothed leaves and branched spikes of golden-yellow flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe and Asia and naturalized in North America, goldenrod prefers open areas and hillsides. It is gathered in summer while in flower.
Goldenrod contains saponins, diterpenes, phenolic glucosides, acetylenes, cinnamates, flavonoids, tannins, hydroxybenzoates, and inulin. The saponins are antifungal.
History & Folklore
The herbalist John Gerard commented wryly in 1597 that “goldenrod has in times past been had in greater estimation and regard than in these days: for within my remembrance, I have known the dry herb which came from beyond the seas, sold … for half a crown an ounce.
But since it was found in Hampstead wood [London] … no man will give half a crown for an hundredweight of it: which plainly setteth forth our inconstancy and sudden mutability, esteeming no longer of any thing (how precious soever it may be) than whilst it is strange and rare.” Four hundred years on, one can only agree.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Antioxidant, diuretic, and astringent, goldenrod is a valuable remedy for urinary tract disorders. It is used both for serious ailments such as nephritis, and for more common problems like cystitis. The herb also has a reputation for helping to flush out kidney and bladder stones.
Goldenrod’s saponins act specifically against the Candida fungus, the cause of vaginal yeast infection and oral thrush. The herb can also be taken for conditions such as sore throats, chronic nasal congestion, and diarrhea. Due to its mild action, goldenrod is used to treat gastroenteritis in children. Externally, it may be used as a mouthwash or douche for thrush.
Various Solidago species are used medicinally in North America. Several species, including Canadian goldenrod (S. canadensis), have been taken to relieve colds, fevers, and chest pain. Sweet-scented goldenrod (S. odora) was listed as a stimulant, carminative, and diaphoretic (sweat-inducer) in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1882.