By Janelle Eklund
Bright yellow clusters of delicate petals seem to gather their colors from the rays of golden sun. The long maypole of the stem is graced with oblong leaves dancing in a circle at the base, twirling the pole to intermingle with the intense golden light of flower heads. The common name, Goldenrod is true to its name.
Solidago also imparts its meaning to this solid stately plant. Solidago is derived from Soldare in Latin meaning healthy and strong. Ago in Latin has a similar meaning of whole or solid.
The parts of the plant are picked at different times during the summer: leaves early summer, flower tops later part of the summer and roots during the fall. All summer as the plant is growing the rootlets are descending downward but as the weather starts to turn cold the roots spread out sideways. Strong and solid stands the plant.
I could have used goldenrod for a recent sinus infection that set up a factory in my upper respiratory system producing huge amounts of mucus. The healing qualities of the flowers and leaves of Solidago would have helped repair my tissues and eased the flow of mucus.
Making a tea from this radiant plant can also help the urinary system and kidneys. The tea has also been known to prevent kidney stones. Its anti-inflammatory properties can stop inflammation of the urinary tract. Because it is a diuretic it can help produce more urine. Got gas pain or weakness in the bowels and bladder? Goldenrod can help reduce those symptoms.
Rademacher writes: "A decoction of the Goldenrod brings the sick kidneys to a normal condition and makes the urine clear and normal again." Material or higher doses are best for real kidney disease but in milder cases Material doses can cause aggravations.
Used as a mouth/throat gargle it can help a sore throat and laryngitis.
As we all well know, summer is mosquito and bug season. When you are out and about enjoying the warmth, light and sweet aroma of summer don't let the bugs stop you from drinking in this pure joy. Take some goldenrod leaves and masticate them in your mouth and then apply this poultice to any insect bites or stings to relieve the affects. And if the intensity of the sun burns any exposed skin this poultice will also relieve that.
To save the essence of this plant for days of summer past dry the leaves and flowers, put them in a glass jar, and store them in a cool dark place. Similar to yarrow, the properties of goldenrod can also stop bleeding of wounds. The antiseptic qualities of the root can even relieve a toothache. Chew a bit of it and then put it around the tooth and gum that is bothering you. Relief should come within a few minutes.
For skin infections and muscle aches and pains make a salve or ointment out of the flowers and leaves.
Enjoy the leaves and flowers by also using them in recipes. The leaves can be eaten like spinach and also added to soups or any other dish of your wish. The flowers give a salad a sunny glow and can also be used in other dishes or as a garnish.
Are you into dyeing your own fabric or yarn from natural dyes? If you want a mustard color dye use the flowers. The whole plant will produce an orange and brown dye. Want to bring out the blond highlights in your hair? Make a strong tea of the flowers and use as a hair rinse.
As summer brings this plant to life give thanks for what it has to offer.
From my light to yours-
References: The Boreal Herbal by Beverley Gray; The Book of Herbal Wisdom by Matthew Wood
By Janelle Eklund
Pale blue sky peaks through fluffy translucent clouds. Sunlight filters through them, brightening the fluffy whiteness, casting subdued warm light to earth. A slight breeze flows through bare stem silhouetted trees bowing to the breath of early spring warmth.
Even though it is still a few months from emergence the gentian comes into my mind's eye this Easter Sunday. Delicate slender purple flowers point toward the sky in small clusters flowing from the stem at the leaf bases. These 'fingers' remind me of folded hands in prayer as they reach toward the heavens.
I have seen gentian living in the field by my house and also in wetter areas near rivers where they were very tall and stately.
The tiny thin roots of gentian are extremely bitter, contain vitamins C, A, and zinc, and can be used medicinally to help digestion issues - if you can get passed the bitterness. It can be made into a syrup, infused tea or tincture. If you dry the roots they need to be dried quickly to retain the medicinal qualities. Use with caution because too much can cause nausea and vomiting. If you have ulcers, high blood pressure, or are pregnant or nursing do not use.
"Gentius King of Illyria claimed to have been cured of malaria by the bitter tonic made from the juice of the plants, hence the name." - Martha Louise Black, Yukon Wild Flowers (1940)
Give praise for the increasing light of spring warming the earth in preparation to awaken plant life and infuse our spirits with healing.
From my light to yours-
References: The Boreal Herbal by Beverley Gray; Plants of the Western Boreal Forest & Aspen Parkland by Johnson, Kershaw, MacKinnon, Pojar.
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.