Goldenrod gets a bad rap, fellow preppers. It is far too often associated with hay fever nastiness – usually without just cause. The plants Latin name is Solidago – which means “to make whole or heal”.
This hardy yellow “weed” grows amid ragweed, so it has been long associated with the triggering of common hay fever symptoms, as well.
To sniff in so much pollen that goldenrod would make you sick would take a lot of effort for most folks. Goldenrod pollen is significantly heavy, and is commonly only spread by insects and not the wind during high pollen count times of the year.
That being said, I am not claiming you will not have an allergic reaction or seasonal allergy to goldenrod, only that it is not necessarily a given.
Goldenrod and ragweed bloom at the same time and as noted above, grow alongside each other – hence a lot of the confusion about exactly what is the likely culprit of hay fever.
Ragweed does not produce bright yellow flowers or toppers, like goldenrod. Instead, ragwood typically has rather plain looking flowers in a green hue, and leaves that are deeply lobed.
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Is Goldenrod Really a Weed?
Yes, goldenrod is considered a weed because it’s pretty invasive and it’s not widely used in the kitchen. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used (see our recipes below)!
The plant boasts a plethora of beneficial natural compounds and flavonoid antioxidants such as kaempferol, saponins, and quercetin.
Goldenrod may possess more antioxidant power than green tea and a significant doses of vitamin C.
The phytodolor in goldenrod has undergone trials in human beings. According to a review of 11 such studies, the phytodolor was as effective as aspirin to reduce knee arthritis and back pain.
How to Identify Goldenrod
There are approximately 130 known species of goldenrod growing wildly in the United States. The weed, or more accurately put – herb, hails from Europe but has now spread in great abundance to South America, Canada, and Asia, as well.
- Solidago virgaurea or European goldenrod, the type mostly found growing in pastures and along the side of the road, typically grows to between 3 and 7 feet tall.
- Yellow flowers appear on this species of goldenrod at the beginning of August or September, depending upon the climate where you live.
- Goldenrod thrives in full sun.
- The yellow flowers on the herb are approximately ¼ of an inch wide.
- The yellow flowers grow in large clusters.
- Leaves on the goldenrod plant are smooth and have slightly jagged edges.
- Leaves are generally no longer than the base of the plant.
- Stems do not branch until they begin to flower.
It is a good idea to crush a leaf from the goldenrod leaf to help you learn how the resins inside feel, and can create a mental note about its distinct fragrance.
A goldenrod leaf smells a lot like a trip to the ocean with a blended aroma of balsam and salt. Some goldenrod species smell like anise, licorice, or have a hint of a honey scent to them.
Goldenrod has some toxic look-alikes, some fellow members of the aster family do have yellow flowers and can be deadly poisonous. Potentially lethal toxic wild plants with at least somewhat similar yellow flowers include: wild parsnips, groundsel, and ragwort.
How to Dry Goldenrod
Flowers can be dehydrated on the nut and herb setting on most home dehydrators in about four to six hours.
You can also dry the flowers in the oven over the course of 4 or 5 hours at 170 degrees F (76 Celsius).
To hang dry goldenrod, spread out the sometimes thickly bunched flowerheads, or cut them apart, so only a single layer is drying in any given bunch. If you are not dealing with intenses humidity, it should not take more than a couple of days to a week for the goldenrod flowers to hang dry.
Dried goldenrod flowers stored in an airtight container should last at least nine months, perhaps significantly longer. If you notice the yellow flowers are beginning to fade substantially, it is likely time to consider pitching them.
Goldenrod Growing Tips
- Although it varies by species, goldenrod typically thrives in agricultural growing zones 3 through 9. It will grow in part shade, but prefers full sun.
- The best soil to grow goldenrod in also varies greatly by species. But, I know of no type that does not cultivate well in well-draining soil.
- Stratify seeds for about three months before sowing them on the surface of the soil. Do not bury the seeds.
- The softwood cuttings that will grow typically have 4 to six 6 appear in the late spring. Generally speaking, goldenrod nodes have a high success rate for taking root.
- Depending upon your growing zone, divide up the rooted plants in the late spring to early summer and transplant. We live in growing zone 6, and do not put plants in the ground until after the threat of a last frost is over near the end of May.
How to Harvest Goldenrod
It is best to harvest goldenrod for its flowers, leaves, and buds right when the flowers are beginning to bloom and not when they are in full bloom. First, always inspect the wild plant for signs of powdery mildew. If any signs of this plant disease is present, do not use this goldenrod.
Simply pluck or snip the desired part of the goldenrod from the whole plant, and prepare to use as desired.
How to Use Goldenrod
When goldenrod is used topically as an anti-inflammatory, for arthritis, or in the treatment of minor wounds, it is most often used in a salve form.
Goldenrod can also be consumed as a dried herb inside of gel capsules, brewed into a tea, as an extract, tincture, or even topically as a soap.
This infusion is used as the base to many goldenrod recipes, including when cold pressed soap is made from the medicinal weed.
- Put 1 cup of DRIED goldenrod flowers in a Mason jar.
- Pour 12 ounces of olive oil over the flowers to make sure they are thoroughly coated and covered.
There are two ways a goldenrod infusion can be processed – the traditional slow method, and the modern technology aided quick method.
- Put the lid and ring on the Mason jar and place the goldenrod infusion in a cool and dark place for four to six weeks.
- Shake the jar once a day until it is removed and uncapped for use.
- Put the open Mason jar in a cook pot that contains a few inches of water.
- Set the burner to a low simmer.
- Steep the mixture for two to three hours.
- Allow the goldenrod tincture to settle at room temperature for several days before using it (optional but highly recommended).
Regardless of which method you use, this final step must be undertaken to finish the goldenrod tincture.
- Strain the goldenrod away from the oil using a colander, fine mesh strainer, or several coffee filters.
- Keep the infused oil – there should be about 12 ounces of it after processing.
Yield: Approximately 6 fluid ounces
- 5 ounces of beeswax
- 3 ½ ounces of goldenrod infusion
- Place several inches of Lukewarm water in a medium cook pot.
- Put a 1 pint Mason jar or similar heat-proof container into the cook pot.
- Pour the goldenrod infusion into the jar.
- Add in the beeswax – pastilles are recommended, but if using a block of beeswax, chop it finely before adding into the mix.
- Bring to a simmer over low to medium heat. Stir constantly to avoid scorching.
- Once the beeswax has melted and is completely combined with the infusion, pour into storage containers with air-tight lids until ready to use.
- Fill a glass jar up to the lip with fresh or dried goldenrod flowers.
- In a separate jug or bowl, combine three parts of vodka or Everclear to 1 part water.
- Pour the alcohol and water mixture into the glass jar. The liquid must completely cover the goldenrod flowers.
- Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid.
- Allow the goldenrod tincture to steep for 30 days in a cool and dry place that is not exposed to direct sunlight.
The common adult tincture dosage for adults is four full droppers daily when combating either gout or kidney stones.
I recommend pouring the mixture into smaller bottles with airtight lids to avoid opening up a large batch of goldenrod tincture, and exposing it to moisture on a repeated basis.
- Put 1 cup of either dried or fresh goldenrod flowers in a Mason jar.
- Simmer 10 ounces of hot water.
- Pour the water into the Mason jar and over the flowers.
- Allow the mixture to cool enough to drink or chill for a cold tea.
- If using the tea as a natural cold pressed soap recipe ingredient, allow the tea to steep for at least 8 to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
- Strain the goldenrod flowers out of the water.
If making just a single cup of tea, use 2 tablespoons of goldenrod flowers and 1 cup of water to make the tea.
When drinking the tea as part of a natural home remedy preventative or maintenance plan, adults should consume no more than three standard coffee cups daily. When taking the tea on a short term basis to treat acute illness symptoms, five cups a day is the norm.
This vinegar is not only good for you, it tastes delicious on salad during cold weather months thanks to its zesty and only slightly bitter taste. Making wild vinegar is kind of like making a tincture: it’s not a difficult process, but it does take patience.
- Fill a glass jar with goldenrod flowers (fresh or dried) up to the lip.
- Cover in apple cider vinegar – you can use other vinegars, but this tends to work and taste the best. The flowers must be totally covered by the vinegar.
- Put a firm fitting lid on the jar or jug.
- Allow the goldenrod vinegar to steep for six weeks.
Mix in equal parts with olive oil to create an easy to spread and wonderful tasting salad dressing. Some folks use the vinegar or dressing as a gout, kidney stones, and gas preventative.
Goldenrod Infused Honey
- Fill a Mason jar three fourths of the way full with goldenrod flowers – fresh preferred.
- Pour raw honey over the flowers up to the lip of the jar.
- Stir the thick and sticky mixture thoroughly to ensure the honey has thoroughly saturated all of the goldenrod flowers.
- Put a tight fitting lid on the Mason jar.
- Stir the honey and goldenrod mixture thoroughly once a day for at least two weeks but up to four.
- You can strain away the goldenrod flowers by heating the honey in a double boiler and then pouring the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. But, you can also choose to leave the flowers in the honey.
- Store the goldenrod honey at room temperature in a container with an airtight lid. I often mix in lilacs or honey when making goldenrod honey.
Goldenrod Cold Pressed Soap Recipe
Yield: About 8 bars of soap
- 12 ounces of goldenrod infusion
- 3 ounces of cocoa butter
- 8 ounces of coconut oil
- 2 ounces of almond oil
- 3 ounces of olive oil
- 4 ounces of lye
- 8 ounces of chilled goldenrod tea
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite essential oil – optional
- Strain the chilled goldenrod tea into a medium to large container.
- Put the lye into the container and stir both carefully and thoroughly to ensure the lye has fully dissolved into the tea. ALWAYS wear thick rubber gloves and protective eyewear when working with lye. The lye will splash during the stirring process, so put down a protective covering on your work space or do the stirring in your sink.
- Place the uncovered goldenrod and lye mixture into a safe place where neither pets or children can reach it for at least half an hour while it cools.
- Put the cocoa butter and coconut oil in a double boiler (or in a glass bowl inside of a pot with several inches of water in it) to melt over slow heat. Stirring constantly is necessary to prevent scorching.
- Pour in the rest of the oils as you continue to stir over low heat. Check the temperature of the mixture with a candy thermometer – it should be between 90 to 100 degrees F (or 32 to 37 C).
- Pour the lye solution into the mixing bowl and stir for several minutes to thicken it – or use a stick blender. You must stir until the soap becomes so thick that when it is drizzled onto a surface it leaves an imprint or trace before sinking back into itself.
- Once you have reached what the soapmakers’ commonly refer to as the “trace stage” it is time to stir in any essential oil(s) that you have chosen to use.
- Pour the soap into the mold and cover with a sheet of way paper first, and then the mold topper or a sturdy paper plate or piece of cardboard.
- Use a towel to insulate the soap mold – checking frequently to make sure it is not becoming overheated. If the soap is cracking down the middle, it is overheating and must be uncovered. When the soap is processing properly, it will go through a phase that makes it adopt a gel-like appearance, and darken in color.
- Leave the soap in the mold for 24 to 48 hours.
- Remove the soap and cut into bars if using a bread loaf style bar. Allow the soap to cure in a cool dry place for four weeks before using.
I often use a loaf pan as a soap mold, and line it with a fondant icing texture sheet to create pretty designs in the soap.
- Harvest a handful of goldenrod leaves and plantain leaves.
- Toss them into your mouth and chew on them for about 10 seconds.
- Remove the leaves from your mouth and slap onto a minor wound or inflamed area to help heal the wound and prevent debris from getting to it or to reduce swelling.
You can use goldenrod leaves along without the plantain, but the combination of the two healing weeds is beneficial. I have also tossed in some jewelweed leaves when making a natural healing poultice.
Dried and powdered goldenrod leaves and flowers, along with plantain preserved in the same manner, can be mixed in a 2 to 1 ratio with a carrier oil to make a poultice, as well.
- 1 cup of goldenrod flower blossoms
- 1 cup of cornmeal
- ⅓ of a cup of sugar
- ½ to ⅓ cup of milk – whole milk or a sweet milk highly recommended
- ½ cup of self-rising flour
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- Up to ½ of a teaspoon of allspice – optional
- Up to ½ of a teaspoon of cinnamon
- Cooking or carrier oil for frying
- ½ of a cup of powdered sugar for topping
- Maple syrup or honey for an added topping – optional but delicious addition, especially if using a wildflower honey.
- Combine all of the ingredients except the powdered sugar, flower blossoms, egg, and milk.
- Combine the egg and milk and then beat into the goldenrod fritter mixture of dry ingredients.
- Fold the goldenrod blossoms into the mixture.
- Put the oil in a medium cook pot and heat it to a frying temperature.
- Drop the goldenrod fritter mixture into the hot oil.
- Fry each fritter until it is golden brown on top.
- Scoop the fritters out of the cook pot and allow the oil to drain away on a paper towel and plate you put beneath them.
- Sprinkle the powdered sugar on top and enjoy as soon as the goldenrod fritters have cooled enough to eat.
Goldenrod Warnings and Side Effects
If you are allergic to ragweed, get hay fever, or have related seasonal allergies, goldenrod could cause a dermatitis reaction, or rash on your skin.
Possible side effects:
- Goldenrod is not recommended for individuals with hypertension – high blood pressure, children, pregnant or nursing women, hypotension – low blood pressure, kidney disease, or any type of heart disease.
- Fluid retention or related lung issues
- Diuretics could cause diuretic medications to work stronger and could lead to dehydration.
- Because of its possible diuretic properties, goldenrod could cause a negative interaction with any over the counter or prescription drug that is processed through the urine and kidneys and, or cause lithium to increase in the bloodstream.
It is always recommended to speak with your doctor before embarking on any natural or alternative medical treatment of first aid. I am not a medical professional of any type and shared the information about goldenrod and its possible uses purely for informational and research purposes only.
Neither me, nor SurvivalSullivan.com or the company behind it shall be held liable for any side-effects or injuries as a result of applying the advice in this article.
All of the nearly 130 species of goldenrod are edible and lauded for their healing properties. Some goldenrod varieties have a more bitter taste than others, or boast a more astringent power when being used in wound care.
Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, ‘Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out’, Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.