Goldenrod, sweet goldenrod, (Solidago odora) is a perennial herb producing beautiful golden flowers in the late summer and early fall. Goldenrod has always held a special place in my heart.†
It is the official flower of September, my birth month, and in the mountains of western Pennsylvania where I grew up, it filled the pastures with a blanket of color as a prelude of the autumn colors to come.†
†The fresh green leaves and flowers of the fall blooming sweet goldenrod smell and taste like licorice or anise.†
After the colonists dumped the British tea into Boston Harbor in 1773, they used Solidago odora as an ingredient in what came to be known as Liberty Tea.†
Today one of Americaís best and most unusual herbal teas is all but forgotten.†
The flavor of the fresh plant is far superior to the dried leaves and flowers.†
Goldenrods are perennials, so donít pull the roots.†
For sweet goldenrod tea collect and rinse several cups of leaves and flowers, place the fresh herbs in a pot and pour boiling water over them. For two cups of fresh plant, use four cups water. Let the tea steep for 20 minutes then strain. Drink it hot or cold with a bit of honey or lemon.†
To make Sweet Goldenrod Jelly use a cup of tea, two tablespoons of powdered pectin, and 3/4 cup sugar. Add the pectin to the tea and heat to a rolling boil, stirring continuously. Add the sugar and reheat to a rolling boil. Stir and boil one minute. Pour into sterilized jelly jars and seal. If you like licorice, you will love this.
If you are allergic to pollen use only the leaves.†
Hay fever suffers frequently blame goldenrod, and although the pollen is an allergen these plants do not generally produce enough airborne pollen to be a problem.†
Ragweed and molds cause most of the fall hay fever problems.
The oil extracted from sweet goldenrod leaves has been used in perfumes.†
In addition to producing a delightful beverage and aroma, the yellow flowers yield a bright yellow dye for wool and yarns.†
When I have had the pleasure of visiting my family farm in Pennsylvania in September, I have gathered flowers and brought them to Waxahachie for a dye bath. The resulting golden wool fleece is part of the display in Bethlehem Revisited, in the shop of Anna, the Dyer and Spinner of Cloth.
Thomas Edison promoted the use of the latex of several goldenrod plants for rubber production.†
At least one Texas variety, Solidago altissima, contains enough hydrocarbons to have commercial potential. Goldenrod grows throughout the eastern United States. More than 20 varieties are at home in Texas.
Arlene Hamilton is an Ellis County Master Gardener, whose columns appear frequently in the Daily Light. You may reach the Ellis County Master Gardeners at 972-825-5175.