Goldenrod

Scientific Name(s): Solidago spp.
Abundance: plentiful
What: young leaves, flowers
How: tea and small addition to salads
Where: fields, borders
When: late summer, early fall
Nutritional Value: low

Goldenrod in the fall.
Goldenrod IGFB

Close-up of goldenrod flowers.
Goldenrod

Goldenrod Flowers

Goldenrod seedlings appear in mid-winter to early spring.
Goldenrod

The easiest way to recognize them when young is finding them where last year's brown, dry goldenrod stems stand, such as in this photo.
Goldenrod

Young goldenrod plant (with more in the background) in late spring. These the young leaves make a tasty tea.
YoungGoldenrods

Close-up of goldenrod leaves. Note also, the stem is relatively smooth and hairless.
GoldenrodLeaves

By mid-summer many goldenrods have developed these round "galls" in their stems. Each gall is the home of a single, small grub of the Goldenrod Gall Fly. Note, these grubs are edible and also make good fishing bait.
Goldenrod

Flowers before they bloom.
Goldenrod

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
GoldenrodTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Goldenrod

Goldenrod can be found lining the roods and standing in fields in every US state and Canadian province. Most of the year they go unnoticed, their green stem and leaves acting like camouflage against the background of green grasses. Come fall, they explode like golden fireworks of deep yellow, pyramidal-clustered flowers. At this time they often get blamed wrongly for hay fever and allergy problems when in reality Ragweed, with it's almost invisible flowers, that is actually to blame.

The youngest, tenderest leaves when used in moderation add an interesting dimension to the flavor of salads. There is often a noticeable color difference between the top 1"-3" of the stem (lighter) and lower parts (darker). Cut the goldenrod off at the point where the light color turns darker. These top leaves are the best for both raw snacks and dried tea.

The leaves can be collected and dried for tea any time from seedling until the flowers bloom. Once the flowers bloom the leaves begin deteriorating and usually are no longer worth collecting. For a black licorice-flavored tea, cut the young leaves or flower stalks off the plant in late morning after dew has evaporated but before the hot sun bakes them. Gather the flowers within the first few days of them opening for the richest flavors. Hang the flower stalks upside-down to dry inside a brown paper bag to dry. Steep one teaspoon of the dried flowers in hot water to make an anise-flavored tea.

Many goldenrods will form round galls on their stems. These are caused by a fly grub which is also edible by humans though most prefer to use the grub as fishing bait.

Dried goldenrod leaves can be smoked as an herbal tobacco replacement.

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