Gathering Goldenrod   4 comments

We see Goldenrod, Salidago spp, everywhere.  Clusters of sunny, yellow spikes, line roadways, waterways, parks, sidewalks and fields; through out summer and fall.  Different species range in height from 1 ft. to 8 ft, standing upright, on smooth, green stems, with very faint parallel stripes.

Solidago  odoras’  parallel veined, darker green leaves are lance shaped with a lightly folded mid-vein and smooth to lightly toothed edges.

Goldenrod’s yellow flower rays form in crazy plume-like clusters, not unlike an unruly head-top ponytail; or wacky summer touristy hat!.

Crush a leaf between your fingers; as Goldenrod’s anise fragrance is an identification giveaway.  The best time to pick is on a sunny, dry day; just after the dew evaporates.  Just clip the top 1/4 of the plant (the meristematic growth); making sure to take less than 10% of what is available in any area.  Many plants propagate through roots, stems and seeds.  Roots and stems provide support to neighboring species; as well as the plant being foraged.  If I’m not using the root or stem there is no need to take it from where it is useful.  Even if the plant dies, its base will remain to nourish the area.

After insect inspection, I strip the leaves and buds from the stems; going against the direction of growth.  Goldenrod is quick and easy to strip; making it a great activity to include little ones in on the fun.  The buds take a long time to dry and frequent turning is essential.  I picked enough to fill a gallon container. Any unused plant material always gets returned to whence it came.  I love that my Goldenrod tea has no carbon footprint.  I walked to where it was gathered.  It was processed with my hands; and dried in the air.  Free and clean.

Anywhere you see the open flower spikes (on the left), you will find plenty of budding spikes (on the right).

The fresh or dried leaves and flower buds brew up into a delicate, golden, anise-flavored tea.  I prefer mine dried; the flavor is mellow and less green.  It’s best to pick before the flowers open; like this:

Pour about 6-8 ozs of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of the dried tea.  Infuse for 5 to 10 minutes; covered.  I have a fancy little infuser that fits nicely into most mugs.  A tea-ball works well; as does a fine mesh kitchen strainer.  When I’m feeling extravagant, I add ½ teaspoon of good local honey and a wedge of lemon; (although it’s great straight up).  YUM!  I use the dregs twice; then take them outside to compost.

The Shakers enjoyed Goldenrod’s ability to mask the taste of other medicinal herbs; as well as it’s “stimulant, carminative, diaphoretic, aromatic and diuretic properties.” (1)

In his Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman states, “Goldenrod is perhaps the first plant to think of for upper respiratory catarrh (excess phlegm).  The properties reveal a role in the treatment of flatulent dyspepsia (indigestion); as a urinary antiseptic and as a gargle in laryngitis.” (2)

I like Goldenrod for all of these reasons.  Two cups a day eliminates my acid reflux and the inflammation it causes in my stomach and esophagus.  The sore throat, cough and verps that accompany acid reflux are gone.  And BONUS my sinus’ are clear, also.  And DOUBLE BONUS: Goldenrod has no known drug interactions! (3)

Like Dandelion*, Taraxacum officinale, Goldenrod wipes out my seasonal allergies.  Many folks blame Goldenrod for their Autumnal misery.  I know Golden Rod to be a seasonal ally.  Rag Weed is the true enemy!

Occasionally, I’ve feel the need to cleanse my entire system.  Boneset*, Eupatorium perfoliatum,  is a good system-wide cleanse; however, its taste is nowhere near acceptable to me.

So, I mix equal parts of Boneset, and Goldenrod; to increase palatability.  The plants, themselves, gave me the idea, as I often find them growing together!  For each mug of tea I use 1 heaping teaspoons each, of dried Goldenrod and dried Boneset, in approximately 7 oz boiling water; and steep for 10 minutes, covered.  After the plant material is strained I add maple syrup or blackstrap molasses and a lemon wedge.  This tea is “da Balm”, and it works; gently returning me to my regular ol’ self!

Be careful, harvesting, as Golden Rod enjoys a similar habitat and flowering period as Wild Parsnip and Tansy; and they often grow interspersed.  Upon close inspection these plants are entirely different. Unlike Goldenrod, Wild Parsnip, Pastinaca sativa (on the left), flowers in umbrella-like clusters.  Its leaves are ovate and sharply toothed; on a stout, deeply grooved stalk.  In the next photo you can see Wild Parsnip, close up.  I was shooting the web of life, on the plant.

Fortunately, for this post, the plant is Wild Parsnip!  The first year taproot of Wild Parsnip is edible, just be cautious around the foliage: “Warning: The combination of wet or sweaty skin, contact with the leaves, and exposure to sunlight may cause phytophotodermatitis.  The symptoms are like those of Poison Ivy, but the affected area may remain reddened for months.” (4)

Tansy*, Tanacetum vulgare, grows on purple, hairless stems, has clusters of yellow button flowers and the leaves are fern-like.

Tansy has medicinal applications, as the fragrance indicates; yet, must be used with caution, as some of the constituents in the oil are deadly in large doses.  I greatly appreciate Tansy’s ability to keep unwanted insects and pests away.


All this plant talk is making me thirsty.  Think I’ll go make a cup of tea.  Won’t you join me?

Thanx for stopping by. See you next time!

Just click on any photo, to enlarge.


(1) Amy Bess Miller. Shaker Medicinal Herbs.

Storey Books, 1998

(2) David Hoffmann. The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal.

Element Books. 1996

(3) A-Z guide to drug-herb-vitamin interactions, Schuyler W. Lininger, Jr. DC, editor in chief

      Prima Health, 1999

(4) Lee Allen Peterson. Peterson Field Guides Edible Wild Plants.

Houghton Mifflin. 1977


More Goldenrod:

 More Dandelion:

More Boneset:

 More Tansy:


4 responses to “Gathering Goldenrod

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  1. Pingback: Get Your Goldenrod « Forageporage's Blog

  2. Blessings, and thank you for this article on Gathering Goldenrod! I read it before going out in the Sunny day here in Michigan where I live back in the Woods — and harvested only six small stalks, to dry right now, and make tea with them later. My first experience with ‘drying’ Goldenrod for Tea, so I started off little.

    I did choose to rinse them off with the hose and shook them out really good, drying on the wall in front of a rotating fan (yet another experiment) for a while before turning the fan away from them, just to dry off the excess water they had on them.

    I’m glad I read about gathering them ‘before they flower’ for using the flowers and leaves for Tea. Now yesterday was my first experience making a Goldenrod Infused Honey, and those Goldies — I harvested were as the flowers had already bloomed on them. Just did it last night, smelled it this morning, and MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmm, I think I’ll get some more Honey and add the flowers as I go in making a nice-sized jar of it!

    xo Indigenous Shamanic Winds, aka., Shami )O(

  3. Hi there, I’m back and feeling a little sheepish after reading this post (so wonderfully jam-packed with info) I’ll definitely be using your suggestions come the new golden rod season, thanks!: )
    Around here (in south-central Ontario) Golden Rod honey makes up around 50-75% of the fall honey crop, is a lovely golden colour (of course; ) and one of my personal favourites. Love your blog! “See” you later: )

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