Please remember that Forage Friday is only intended to be a conversation starter. I highly recommend that you do further research before trying any wild edible / medicinal plants for the first time.
As the morning mists roll back and allow the mountains to welcome the morning sun my big blue truck rolls to a stop near the defunct strip mine. The goldenrod stands tall in the the thinning fog. This specimen is large. the base of the main stem is about one quarter of an inch thick.
goldenrod is one of those plants that often catches a bad wrap. While its true that some people have an allergy to Goldenrod it’s reputation for causing hay fever is a bit distorted. The truth is that Peterson’s Field guides recommends it for treating hay fever. A lot of folks in Appalachia and in rural America in general say that honey that is made from goldenrod is the best treatment for allergies. I have wondered if it was just the presence of the pollen & nectar in the honey or if the bees somehow enhance the effect during the process of making honey. It’s also said that crushing the flowers and chewing them so that the juice is slowly swallowed can relieve a sore throat. The most common medicinal use is as a diuretic and is indicated for just about anything that increased urine flow might help. The guides also say that Native Americans would use th roots on burns.
The food uses seem to be as a tea. Both leaves and flowers can be used fresh or dried to provide a tea that has a flavor similar to anise. Here’s where we transition into the utilitarian qualities of goldenrod. Anise is not just a flavoring for old time candy. It’s used as fishing lure to enhance bait. I’d miss my guess if golden rod couldn’t be used the same way. And, if you’re a successful fisherman without a match or Bic lighter that Goldenrod stem is there to come to the rescue. The Stem of goldenrod is an almost perfect friction fire tool. I say almost because it’s a bit easy to break. Friction fire in the Eastern Woodlands is a challenge to say the least. I’ve tried several methods and devices such as bow drills and pump drills and I’ve gotten to the point of creating a thin wisp of smoke but I’ve never got the red hot coal that brings flames. However, I’m convinced that the fault was in my technique and the most successful attempts that I have ever had was using the Goldenrod stem as a drill bit.
On the right side of the page we have a familiar sight. The “W” pattern on the back of the beetle tells me that it’s a Black and Yellow Locust Borer. While they are pretty hard on the locust trees they’re harmless to people. After they emerge from the locust tree they feed of goldenrod. In fact the sweetness of goldenrod is so attractive to insects that you’ll need to make sure that only the leaves & flowers are going into your tea.
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