MISSOURI GIRL EATS WEEDS
Wed, 09/22/2021 - 2:17pm admin
Ann J. Hines, PhD
I know what you’re thinking, “Get that flower away from me before I sneeze!” Guilty by association, goldenrod blooms at the same time as one of its cousins in the daisy family, ragweed, known to torment many a seasonal allergy sufferer. But unlike ragweed’s airborne pollen, goldenrod pollen is sticky, therefore posing no threat to those with allergies, and depending on insects to spread its pollen. I’m not sure how the confusion started because they don’t even look alike. The goldenrod flower is a showy, yellow composite flowerhead like a cluster of very tiny daisies. Ragweed has tiny green “peas” that as a child, my sister and I stripped from the stems and used as “food” in our playhouse. (And undoubtedly built up our resistance to seasonal allergies!) Missouri is home to 23 species of goldenrod. But don’t worry, you won’t need to identify the species to recognize these golden beauties.
Ironically, goldenrod tincture is a remarkable antidote to the seasonal allergies so aggravated by ragweed. It has astringent properties that fight runny noses and watery eyes. It also has diaphoretic properties, encouraging sweating which helps with fevers, and acts as an expectorant. So don’t be afraid to enjoy this ornamental beauty in your flowerbeds and garden edges.
Goldenrod has a special place in American history, particularly during the period of our rebellion against the Crown. In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, goldenrod leaf and other leaves were used by colonists to make “Liberty Tea.” This “tea” was even exported to China.
People of the Appalachian Mountains called it Blue Mountain Tea and used it to fight fatigue and recover from exhaustion. Peoples of the British Isles used it for wound healing, both as a wash and as a salve or poultice.
Its use as a diuretic makes it valuable for kidney stones and urinary tract infections, without stripping the body of electrolytes like typical diuretics can. Its anti-inflammatory qualities have been studied and found comparable to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs typically used for rheumatoid arthritis. Goldenrod contains saponins, which have anti-cancer and anti-fungal benefits, specifically against candida albicans, commonly associated with yeast infections.
Let me know if you gather goldenrod to make Liberty Tea this week! If you are a Facebook user, join the new Missouri Girl Eats Weeds group for more photos, recipes, group discussions, and links to past articles. You can also ask questions or share photos of your finds with the group!