Goldenrod (S. gigantea, S. canadensis and S. virgaurea) is a great herb for the urinary tract, upper respiratory system, veins, wounds, muscle soreness, rheumatism, gout and arthritis. The active components of these three goldenrod species differ both in quantity and quality. The amount of anti-inflammatory flavonoids and saponins are much higher in S. canadensis than in S. virgaurea. However, S. Virgaurea contains the analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory phenol glycoside leiocarposide which is absent in both S. canadensis and S. gigantea. Therefore, S. virgaurea is preferred for painful inflammatory ailments.
All three species, however, have antispasmodic and diuretic properties. Their saponin content is especially effective against fungus, particularly Candida albicans. The astringent properties of goldenrod decrease the swelling of the mucosa making goldenrod tea excellent for sore throat and chronic allergic sniffles.
Solidago virgaurea: European goldenrod
Solidago canadensis: Canadian goldenrod, Canada goldenrod
Solidago gigantea: Giant goldenrod, tall goldenrod, early goldenrod (UK)
S. virgaurea is endemic to Europe and Asia, while S. gigantea and S. canadensis are native to North America. The three species are found in both Europe and North America with S. canadensis being an invasive species in Europe.
Solidago virgaurea: Short, cylindrical, knotty roots without any creeping rhizomes. The vertically striated stems are pithy as well as hairy at the top and purple-brown or dark red at the bottom. The leaves are narrow, elliptic with serrate edges, more or less hairless and mildly aromatic when crushed. The flower stalk can reach 1 meter (40 inches) in height and the flowers are large attaining a size of 6-10mm and blossoming from July to September.
Solidago gigantea: The fibrous and rhizomatous root system form dense colonies of plants that grow. The often bluish-green stems are hairless and 5-8mm in diameter. The leaves have three veins (a central vein and 2 lateral veins) that are nearly parallel to each other, hairless except for lower side veins. The ray flowers are longer than the disc flowers
Solidago canadensis: A log-lived perennial with extensive and deep root system of short reddish, creeping rhizomes that form large, dense patches. The slender stems (3-5mm ⌀) can reach 1,5 meters (5 feet) are leafy and mostly unbranched. The top half of the stem is downy and the lower half, hairless. The 3-nerved leaves are hairy, lanceolate and sharply toothed. Large basal leaves form early and fall off later leaving only the stem leaves. The ray flowers are barely longer, sometimes shorter than the disc flowers and bloom from July to October.
Hardy herbaceous perennials, Solidago spp do well in water-retentive soil and are typically found in heathland, at the edge of forests, in abandoned fields, waste areas, roadsides, open woodlands and tall-grass prairies. The flowers are self-incompatible requiring pollination by insects.
S. Canadensis is not normally cultivated in gardens due to its spreading rhizomatous growth. However, it is possible to contain the plant’s proliferation by planting it in a submersed pot in the ground. Remove flower heads prior to seed development to prevent seed dispersal.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-9
Exposure: Full sun
Garden Design: Perimeter of the garden, back or middle of the border combined with asters
Harvest Goldenrod when some flower buds are starting to open and many are still in bud stage. Cut the top 10 cm (4 inches) bloom, leaves and stem. Since most of the flavonoids are in the flowers and leaves, your cutting should have no more than 20% stems.
Hang the flowers upside down and allow them to dry thoroughly. You can also dry it in a dehydrator at about 40C (104F).
Solidago virgaurea: flavonoids (1.4%), glycosides (absence of quercitrin present in S. gigantea and S. canadensis, 0.8% rutin, kaempferol, isorhammnetin, rhamnetin-3-O), triterpene saponins (that have polygalacic acid absent in S.gigantea and S. canadensis), 0.12-0.5% volatile oil (40-60% y-cadinene and other 22 known monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, limonene, sabinene, myrcene), phenol glycosides (leiocarposide and virgaureoside), saponin (virgaurea, solidago), caffeic acid derivatives, 0.01% salicylic acid, acidic polysaccharides and catechin-type tannins.
Solidago gigantea: flavonoids (3.8%), glycosides (1.3% quercitrin, 0.2% rutin, kaempferol, isorhammnetin, rhamnetin-3-O), triterpene saponins, 0.5% volatile oil (30-60% y-cadinene and other 14 known monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes), caffeic acid, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, vanillic acid, protocatechuic acid, salicylic acid,
Solidago canadensis: flavonoids (2.4%), glycosides (0.3% quercitrin, 1.4% rutin, kaempferol, isorhammnetin, rhamnetin-3-O), triterpene saponins, 0.6% volatile oil (over 40 monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, 23.5% curlone, 19.8% germacrene D, 14.7% gamma-pinene, 10.4% beta-sesquiphellandrene, 9.3% limonene), caffeic acid, ferulic acid, sinapic acid, vanillic acid, protocatechuic acid, saliculic acid, tannins, polysaccharides
Diuretic, antiphlogistic, antilithic, astringent, antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-allergic, cathartic, styptic, anti-pyretic, anti-hypertensive, spasmolytic, antifungal (especially Candida albicans)
Aromatic, bitter, astringent (S. virgaurea tastes harsh, more astringent than S. canadensis and S. gigantea.
S. virgaurea: Mildly aromatic
S. canadensis, S. gigantea: Aromatic
MEDICINAL USE OF GOLDENROD
Goldenrod flowers are a relaxing diuretic and disinfectant commonly used in irrigation therapy to flush the kidneys. Why is it a disinfectant? As with many aromatics, the presence of essential oils stimulates the kidneys to increase the volume of water to flush these very oils out of the body. This concentration of oils in the urine has a topic antiseptic action on the urinary tract.
Solidago spp have antilithic properties. It means these herbs are good for dissolving stones. It most likely won’t dissolve the stones completely, but it may smooth rough edges making it easier to pass the stone. It also relaxes tense tissues which ease the passage of the stones.
Goldenrod is also good for alleviating allergies and soothing ailments of the respiratory system. It is excellent for dripping allergies such as hay fever and cat allergies (a few drops of diluted tincture under the tongue). Herbalist Jim McDonald recommends making a batch of goldenrod tea, straining it well, adding some salt to it to make it saline, freezing it in ice cube trays and unfreezing when you need a nasal wash. He also recommends mixing it with plantain. A brilliant recommendation since plantains contains mucilage which moistens and soothes the air-passages.
This excellent herb also contains rutin (S. canadensis has the highest percentage) which is an excellent compound for venous insufficiency. Goldenrod is also used for arthritis, gout, rheumatism, eczema and wounds, especially the bad healing kind of wound.
Used internally for:
- Bladder infections
- Inflammation of the bladder and kidneys
- Kidney stones and gravel
- Seasonal allergies
- Venous insufficiency
- Candida albicans
Topic application for:
- Inflammation of the mouth and throat
- Poorly healing wounds
- Muscle soreness
- Nasal wash
Recommended daily dosage: 6-12 g flowering herb
Infusion: 3 to 6 g in 150 ml hot water. Let steep for 20 minutes (to extract the flavonoids). Drink 1 cup 2 to 4 times per day for up to 6 weeks.
- Infusion (drink it cold to favor diuretic action)
- Oil (for sore, irritated muscles, bruises and sprains)
- Liquid extracts
- Fresh juice
European goldenrod (S. virgaurea)
Bühring, U. 2015. Alles über Heilpflanzen. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: Ulmer.
Wichtl M. 2004. Herbal drugs and phytopharmaceuticals – A handbook for practice on a scientific basis. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: medpharm Scientific Publishers
Booy O., Wade M., RoyField H. Guide to Invasive Plants and Animals in Britain