A look back into Goldenrod’s history

goldenrod fieldRecently, I taught a class about Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), which prompted me to delve deeper into the history of the plant. It seems like every time I look at the Golden Goddess it has more to teach me. If you have been following my blog, you know that Goldenrod has saved our family from allergy hell as well as soothed our aches and pain. But it is oh, so much more.

It all begins with the name. The scientific name for Goldenrod is Solidago from the Latin word solidare, meaning “to join,” or “bring together” as the lips of a wound “to make whole.” Think of the word solder. This speaks to Goldenrod’s long history of healing wounds. The ancient Germans considered Goldenrod to be the best wound herb and, before engaging in battle, they gathered it as a precaution. In Germany today it is commonly called “fastening herb” because it fastens wounds together or “golden woundwort.”

Goldenrod has several actions that makes it excellent for healing wounds. It is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and is astringent. Its astringent capabilities helps tighten tissues. It is particularly good on old, slow-healing wounds that ooze and refuse to heal completely. The dry powdered leaves and roots make a good styptic agent for cuts because it contracts tissue to seal injured blood vessels. In addition, it is useful for treating sore, sensitive bruises and contusions. No wonder why it’s a perfect herb to take into battle.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Goldenrod’s healing abilities were very popular and it was extremely valuable. The powder was exported to London for its healing powers and was sold for as much as a half a crown per pound. One superstition says that he who carries the plant will find treasure: It’s the symbol for treasure and good fortune. It seems more likely that if you possessed Goldenrod, you could make a good profit from it. The colonists called goldenrod tea “Liberty Tea,” since they drank it instead of black tea after the Boston Tea Party. Liberty Tea became very popular and was actually exported to China.

The most fascinating use I found for Goldenrod came from the inventor Thomas Edison, who experimented with its natural rubber properties. Edison cultivated a 12-foot-tall plant that yielded as much as 12 percent rubber content in each plant. Henry Ford gave Edison a Model T with tires made from Goldenrod but Edison died before he could bring his project into commercial production. During World War II there was extensive process development conducted on Goldenrod to commercialize it as a source of rubber. But they were not as successful as Edison, as they could only cultivate leaves with a rubber content of 7 percent. The resulting rubber had a low molecular weight, resulting in an excessively tacky compound with poor abilities to be stretched.

Goldenrod continues to fascinate me and I will continue to share it virtues. What do you use Goldenrod for? Please share and I will continue to share with you.

All information is shared for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.