Botanical: Solidago spp. (Solidago canadensis, S. altissima L., S. gigantea)
parts used: aerial parts, flowers, leaves
energetics: pungent, bitter, warming and drying
used for: bladder infections, diarrhea, edema, fungal infections, kidney stones, muscle aches and pains, seasonal allergies
common names: Aaron’s rod, Canada goldenrod, Goldruthe, Woundwort
Goldenrod is also known by its scientific name Solidago derived from the Latin word meaning “to make whole”.
The bright-yellow plumes of the Solidago species that wave gracefully along roadsides and in waste areas from July until November have only recently drawn the attention of American gardeners. Northern Europeans have recognized the ornamental properties of goldenrod for years; they use them liberally to enliven gardens in autumn.
Unlike many tall flowers, goldenrod grows sturdy and upright requiring no stakes. Plant forms tend to improve under cultivation, but some goldenrod can become aggressive and weedy in rich soil. Flower heads make long-lasting cut flowers. Dried sprays are particularly useful in herbal wreaths and fall wall ornaments.
You can grow goldenrod plants in your garden, but mind you… their rhizomes not only spread, but they also seep an allelopathic compound into the surrounding soil that can inhibit the growth of other plants. That means that goldenrod can take over an area pretty easy.
Goldenrod is a perennial plant that is known well for its healing properties. It reproduces through its roots (rhizomes actually), bulbs, stems and by its seed. Goldenrod does not cause seasonal allergies as many tend to believe. No one is, no one can be, allergic to Goldenrod pollen. Why? For starters, it has little and is very heavy and does not travel freely on the wind. Only wind-pollinated plants such as Ragweed (which blooms at the same time as Goldenrod) can cause allergic reactions. The exception (or course) being if you are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family. (see safety cautions below)
All varieties all are equally nutritious and boast many health benefits. Goldenrod can be used fresh or as a dried herb to make tea (although it is bitter), or as a fluid extract, tincture, or in capsules. Nebraska declared a type of Goldenrod (Soldiago gigantea) the state flower in 1895. It is also the state flower of Alabama and Kentucky!
Goldenrod Flowers: grow as an inflorescence in a broad or occasionally narrow pyramidal panicle. They can be anywhere from 5 to 40 cm (2 to 16″) high and nearly as wide.There are several to many horizontal branches, the upper sides of which carry numerous, densely-crowded small heads of golden yellow flowers. Each individual flower head measures about 3 mm (1/8″) long and wide. It typically flowers from mid-July to September.
Goldenrod multiplies by sending out root runners. It is a perennial with stems that range from crawling to ascending or erect. It grows 2 to 3 feet high with alternation leaves and panicles of yellow golden flowers at the top. It is native to Europe and Asia. It can now also be found growing wild in most of North America. It likes pastures, savannas, prairies, and mountainsides.
Over 125 species of Solidago grow in the United States. Some common natives have good ornamental qualities:
Solidago speciosa (showy goldenrod) – it forms large, club-shaped, terminal flower clusters on 5- to 6-foot stalks.
S. rugosa (rough-leaved goldenrod) – occurs in low woods and meadows. Its long, arching, flower sprays are displayed on 4-foot stems. Plants spread by rhizomes and need plenty of room (at least 3 feet in all directions) to avoid crowding out other plants.
S. altissima (tall goldenrod) and S. gigantea (giant goldenrod) – can fill out an area rapidly. Both can grow to 7 or 8 feet and are excellent for naturalizing sunny banks.
S. odora (sweet goldenrod) – a native of open woods and dry meadows, exudes an anise scent when bruised. It is a short species (2 to 3 feet) that blossoms early.
From Chesnut School of Herbal Medicine…
Goldenrod Identification: Crush a goldenrod leaf when the plant is in bloom to familiarize yourself with its unique aroma. I detect hints of resin and seaside in the fragrance; a perfect blend of salt and balsam. If you have multiple species growing in your region, get to know their nuances by tasting and smelling the leaves (after you’ve properly identified the plant to be goldenrod!). Some varieties are more bitter, others more astringent, and some specialize in resinous flavors. Sweet goldenrod (S. odora) possesses honeyed hints of anise or licorice and is a prized beverage tea. 
My grandson says they smell like tomatoes. 🙂 But I agree with Juliet, especially the balsam part. As I was processing a large amount this summer, my hands were so fragrant that I didn’t even want to wash them when I was finished. Lovely!
Oh! Speaking of lovely, while you finish reading this herb profile on goldenrod, you should listen to this by Josh Fox, Solidago Medicine Song
Culinary Uses for Goldenrod
All aerial parts of the plant can be used. The flowers are edible and make attractive garnishes on salads. Flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) are used to make tea. Leaves can be cooked like spinach or added to soups, stews or casseroles. Leaves can be blanched and frozen for later use in soups, stews, or stir fry throughout the winter or spring. 
This vinegar improves mineral balance and helps your body keep from making kidney stones.
- Fresh goldenrod leaves and flowers
- Organic apple cider vinegar
- One mason jar
- Fill up the jar with chopped flowers and leaves; then fill the jar to the top with room-temperature, pasteurized, apple cider vinegar. Cap it tightly placing a piece of thick plastic to cover up the metal lid. (Vinegar will erode metal lids.)
- Be sure to label your vinegar with the date and contents. Let the mixture sit in a cool dark location for one month. After one month, strain off the contents and squeeze extra vinegar out of the plant matter and return vinegar to the jar.
This vinegar will improve your mineral balance, help prevent kidney stones, eliminate flatulence, and improve immune functioning.Many people take one look at goldenrod and run the other way, coughing and sneezing swearing that it is causing their allergies when in fact, it is actually the cure. Click To Tweet
Cosmetic Uses for Goldenrod
Goldenrod makes a nice hair rinse.
Hair Rinse: Take a handful of fresh flowers and infuse it in 1 pint of boiling water. Strain, allow to cool and use as a rinse. Goldenrod will impart a golden sheen to fair hair and improve its texture.
This herb is also helpful in dealing with several skin problems. With its amazing wellness properties, it quickly heals the epithelial tissues from skin issues like cuts, bites and stings. A poultice made of leaves and flowers effectively supports the healing of wounds and burns providing amazing results. Centuries ago, people combined Goldenrod with St. John’s wort, plantain and yarrow to enhance the healing effect.
Using the flowers in oils makes a lovely golden color and is nice used in cosmetic products.
Using Goldenrod for Wellness
All species of goldenrod can be used medicinally.
Externally, Native Americans boiled leaves and used them topically as an antiseptic and astringent for wound healing and relief from eczema, arthritis, and rheumatism. There is also evidence that Native Americans treated a toothache and sore throats by chewing on its leaves and roots.
One of the main traditional uses of goldenrod was to treat infections of the bladder and the urinary tract. There is scientific evidence that the plant is effective in treating these complaints which supports its traditional use. The German commission has approved the use of goldenrod to treat urinary tract infections.
Here is what German researchers had to say about the potential of goldenrod in urinary tract conditions.
The use of such herbal preparations with a rather complex action spectrum (anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, diuretic, antispasmodic, analgesic) is especially recommended for treatment of infections and inflammations, to prevent formation of kidney stones and to help remove urinary gravel. This therapy is safe at a reasonable price and does not show drug-related side-effects. 
During a sinus headache, the drainage of the sinuses becomes blocked causing congestion and pain. Anti-catarrhal herbs help the body remove excess mucus, particularly in the sinuses and can be helpful during a sinus headache. Anti-catarrhals include catnip (Nepeta cataria), goldenrod (Solidago spp.), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), elder flower (Sambucus spp.), and red clover (Trifolium pratense) — together, a powerful tea!
Goldenrod for Allergies, Colds & Flu
Goldenrod can be extremely useful for upper respiratory congestion. As an expectorant, goldenrod can dislodge mucous easily from the lungs. Try it infused with honey or as a tea with honey added. It’s astringency will help dry up all that congestion. Whether it is due to allergies, sinusitis, colds or flu, think of goldenrod when you need a strong herbal decongestant.
During a cold or the flu, it can also help alleviate an inflamed sore throat (antiseptic and antimicrobial) and help to break a fever by causing you to sweat. (diaphoretic) Try goldenrod in a tea, a homemade tincture, an infused honey, or a syrup. Be sure to dry some goldenrod for use over the winter. Tea made out of the leaves of Goldenrod (called Blue Mountain Tea) has been used by herbalists in the Appalachians for many years to relieve exhaustion and fatigue.
Fresh Goldenrod Tea with Lemon & Honey
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh leaves, flowers and buds
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- honey to taste
Add the fresh chopped herbs to a pot, teapot, or glass canning jar. Pour boiling water over the herbs and let steep for 30 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice and honey to taste. Strain the herb out and enjoy!
Fresh or Dried Goldenrod Tincture
Use fresh or dried flowers and leaf to make a goldenrod tincture.
What you’ll need:
- 1 jar with lid
- 1 amber large bottle for storing the tincture when finished
- Tincture bottle
- Dried goldenrod or fresh flowers, buds and leaf.
- 80-100 proof vodka or apple cider vinegar (for using with the dried herbs) or 95% grain alcohol (I use Everclear) to use with the fresh herbs.
- Fill the jar half way with dried goldenrod or 2/3 of the way with chopped fresh.
- Pour the alcohol or apple cider vinegar over the herb. Fill the jar the rest of the way and seal with a lid. Shake it well and keep doing that every day for a few weeks.
- Label and date your jar.
- Store your jar in a warm spot (out of direct sunlight) for 4 weeks or more.
- When your time is over, strain off the herbs and discard them.
- Date and label your jar. Store in a dark and cool place where it will keep for many years.
Bruises, Sprains, Injuries and Sore Muscles
If you have access to wildcraft goldenrod, it makes a good substitute for arnica in a nice massage oil or to be included in a salve for those achy joints. Goldenrod really supports healing when there are bumps and bruises, injuries from physical trauma; including sprains.
Goldenrod also helps bring comfort to pulled or sore muscles, stiffness and pain. I make a massage oil with goldenrod as one of the herbs infused in the oil. As I mentioned earlier, it is a solid choice as a substitute for arnica. Use goldenrod infused oil as a massage oil. Moreover, this herb’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions relieve muscle pains and aches including arthritis. It also provides quick relief when used for menstrual cramps. Nothing is better than massaging a little salve on my lower belly and finding relief within moments.
Goldenrod is a hard worker for you in your herbal first aid kit. It’s complex properties will support healing in so many ways. It’s big four, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, astringent and vulnerary (wound healing) properties make it an excellent choice for an infused oil or a simple salve. After infusing it in oil (grapeseed, avocado, sweet almond, or olive are good choices), you can use it to make a simple salve or a compound salve using comfrey, arnica, and plantain to assist in the mix.
Essential oils like goldenrod have been shown to kill many of the bacteria and molds that cause illness and respiratory distress, including salmonella and listeria.  The flowers and leaves of the goldenrod plant are steam distilled to produce the essential oil.
Add goldenrod to water or vinegar to create a spray that can be used on the hard surfaces of your home to help control food-borne illnesses. Diffusing the essential oil throughout the house may also kill molds that can irritate allergies. 
Goldenrod has also been used to treat kidney diseases in animals. The tea or herb is added to the affected animal’s food.
Note: This just in… Goldenrod is high in the terpene myrcene. Myrcene is one of the most common cannabis terpenes out there, but it’s also commonly found in another popular plant — goldenrod. Next time you have access to fresh goldenrod, take a whiff. That spicy smell is coming from myrcene. It is also found in lemongrass, mango, and thyme.
If you don’t have access to goldenrod or don’t want to make your own you can buy my excellent quality goldenrod infused oil and salve.
Dose: Tea: (infusion) of 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 ml) of the dried leaves and flowers per 1 cup (240 ml) of boiling water, up to three times a day(recommended to take between meals) Tincture: Fresh flowering herb (1:2 95%) or dry flowering herb (1:4 60%); either preparation 2–4 ml three times a day Or smaller doses more frequently for acute situations.
The fragrance, color, and form of the whole spiritual expression of goldenrod are hopeful and strength-giving beyond any others I know. A single spike is sufficient to heal disbelief and melancholy.
~ John Muir, Co-Founder of the Sierra Club
- Some people may have an allergic or other adverse reaction to this herb. If you are allergic to other plants in the asteraceae family, it is best to consume small amounts when trying an herb for the first time.
- It is best to avoid consuming this herb during pregnancy. It can be overly drying if used as a tonic tea for daily use, especially if you have a dry constitution.
- Goldenrod Benefits for Allergies, Sinus Infections, and UTIs https://chestnutherbs.com/goldenrod/
- Edible Wild Food – Goldenrod
- Goldenrod–a classical exponent in the urological phytotherapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15638071
- Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, by Patricia Kyritsi Howell
- Braun, L. and Cohen, M. (2007). Herbs & natural supplements: An evidence-based guide. 2nd ed. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone.
- Alexey V. Tkachev, Elena A. Korolyuk & Wudeneh Letchamo (2006) Volatile Oil-Bearing Flora of Siberia VIII: Essential Oil Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Wild Solidago virgaurea L. from the Russian Altai, Journal of Essential Oil Research, 18:1, 46-50, DOI: 10.1080/10412905.2006.9699382
- Volatile Oil-Bearing Flora of Siberia VIII: Essential Oil Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Wild Solidago virgaurea L. from the Russian Altai source