Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ode to goldenrod

Lately our goldenrod has been covered with bees, busily working their way through the haze of yellow flowers.  Goldenrod often gets a bad reputation, for its association with allergies like hayfever.  In fact, goldenrod is often the scapegoat for the allergen that is usually the real problem - ragweed.  They grow in similar places and bloom at the same time, so are often grouped together as problem plants.  Ragweed's pollen is light and can easily travel by wind through the air, whereas goldenrod pollen is heavy and sticky and does not tend to fly as dust through the air.

There are many values to having goldenrod in the garden, and in some countries it is actually considered good fortune to have it growing nearby!  Goldenrod is...
- a natural remedy for toothaches, digestive upset, wounds, kidney disorders, bleeding gums, and much more
- a great dye agent for naturally dying fabric or fibres
- a forage plant for birds and bees late into the fall
- excellent for attracting pollinators, bees, wasps and butterflies

Some books and references will even claim that goldenrod is the most important food for bees, as it provides food (pollen and nectar) late into the fall when few other flowering plants are still available, so bees can bulk up for the winter months.  One author writes that his bees don't even produce any honey until the goldenrod season begins!  The honey is said to be a light to amber colour, with a spicy taste. 


  1. May I share that Bees are responsible for pollinating almost 80 percent of the food crops like apples, soybeans, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, peaches, and many more. Though there are other insects which can also pollinate flowering plants and crops, none are more efficient than the bees. The extinction of bees could force the humans to revert to diets comprised of bread and water only. Cattle which depend on the alfalfa pollinated by bees are also in danger.

  2. Yes! We live in the country, and have LOTS of goldenrod on our property. Every time I walk the dogs, they try to get me to stop so that they can nibble the goldenrod leaves - they LOVE it, and grab leaves as they can as we pass by. Finally one day I looked it up on the internet to try to figure out why they were so drawn to it, and voila, just like you have said here, it has medicinal properties that I was unaware of. Thanks for passing along these insights about this maligned plant. By the way, I just finished reading a novel that I think you and your readers would enjoy - it's Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.