Goldenrod is a yellow flowering plant in the Asteraceae family, often confused with ragweed. Since many people are allergic to ragweed, they also give goldenrod a wide berth. Although a few people may be allergic to goldenrod, most are not. It has been used in traditional societies for centuries as a medicinal herb.
The goldenrod we see in Mt. Laguna is most likely Solidago californica or California goldenrod. It grows well in dry soil, and sends out a mat of roots in all directions. In that way it can cover entire hillsides. Leaves are gray-green and hairy. Flower stalks bloom in late summer and are 6” to 2’ high.
The summer after the Chariot Fire, there was a magnificent hillside of goldenrod on the east side of Sunrise Highway, near the Sierra Club property. These were quite tall, so could have been Solidago canadensis or Canada goldenrod, as it is much taller than California goldenrod. Or, it could have been our usual goldenrod growing unusually tall.
The Indians of southern California used goldenrod medicinally. Some used a decoction* made from the leaves and stalks as a hair rinse and to retard hair loss. A decoction of leaves was used to wash sores and burns. An infusion* of leaves and flowers was used the same way. Powder of the dried, toasted leaf was applied to sores. The powdered leaves act as a styptic agent and stop bleeding. The flowers were chewed for sore throat.
Current herbal medicine, especially in Europe, uses goldenrod in a variety of ways. It is known to dispel intestinal gas, so is used as a stomach remedy. It’s used as a cold and flu remedy. It’s also a diuretic that is used as a kidney tonic, and possibly to dissolve bladder stones. In studies, goldenrod has been found to be anti-inflammatory, antifungal, analgesic, and diuretic.
The flowers are said to have a pleasant taste. A simple tea is made from the leaves by taking 1 teaspoon of leaves and steeping them in a cup of hot water. Since some folks can be allergic to goldenrod, be sure to check before using it liberally. None of this is intended as medical advice. Be sure to consult a professional if you want to use any herb medicinally.
Meanwhile, enjoy the display that goldenrod puts on for us every year in the late summer or early autumn.
*Decoction: made by simmering plant material in a covered container. Infusion: made by steeping plant material in hot water.
Joanne Odenthal, Cabin 505