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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Asters and Goldenrod...The Palette of Autumn

Goldenrod - Ally For The Kidneys



A sure sign that summer is coming to a close is the transformation of open meadows and wastelands to a mix of golds, yellow, whites and a touch of purple.
It is a shame many people just see these wild plants as weeds in areas that just weren't kept mowed. Another example of the "great forgetting" of the knowledge of our ancestors.

Fall asters in natural settings are much smaller than garden types. These bushy 3 - 4 foot tall plants remind me of nature's baby's breath adding its delicate touch to the whole meadow scene of golds and yellows from the Goldenrods.

There are more than 80 species of Goldenrod and all but one can be found in North America. A common type of Goldenrod is Solidago canedensis, which can be identified because it develops galls on the stems. Goldenrods are beautiful native plants for both a naturalized area as well as in the garden. It is a misperception that Goldenrods are to blame for fall allergies. The plant that is responsible, and blooms at the same time, is Ragweed. Here is a good identification article on Common Ragweed and Giant Ragweed. Don't treat Goldenrod as a weed, for it has tremendous wildlife value. Their flowers are very important to pollinators active in the fall, and they are also a host plant for many species of butterflies and moths.

For medicinal purposes Solidago virgaurea is the best.
The name Sodidago comes from the latin meaning "to solidify or bring together" the lips of a wound. It was one of the main wound remedies during the Middle Ages and in this country was used extensively by the American Indians. Used for a variety of ailments, most of these uses trace back to poor kidney action. Today's naturopathic medicine still favors Goldenrod as one of the best kidney and bladder remedies. If the kidneys fail to remove uric acid from the blood, it builds up in the system causing dark, cloudy urine. The effects on the other organs snowball. If the organs of detoxification become compromised the body suffers the consequences. Patients with exhausted kidneys have tired lower backs, tired feet, just drained of vitality. Goldenrod pulls the blood into the kidney from the vessels.

Here are a few ways you can make your own preparations with Goldenrod. For later use gather what you need at the beginning of the flowering season. Cut off the top part of the plants a little below the bottom-most flowers. Tie them in bunches and hand in a dry, shady, airy place. Pick fresh every year because they lose their diuretic quality after a year of storage. These recipes came from the book "Medicine of the Earth" by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi.

Tea for Flushing Out Wastes; Rheumatism

Goldenrod herb (Solidago virgaurea)
Stinging nettle herb (Urtica dioica/urens)
White birch leaves (Betula pendula)
White willow bark (Salix alba)

Mix the herbs in equal parts and store in a tightly lidded container. For a cup of tea, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 tsp. herb mixture. Steep, strain, add honey or stevia to taste if desired.
Mountain Rose Herbs  and Bulk Herb Store are very reputable companies in which to purchase dried herbs you can be assured are fresh.

Goldenrod Tincture

Fill a dark jar with freshly cut goldenrod herb. Pour in a grain spirit or fruit liqueur (such as 100 proof vodka or brandy) to cover, close the jar tightly, and let the mixture steep in a dark , warm place for 2 - 3 weeks. Shake occasionally. Strain the tincture into dropper bottles. (Mountain Rose Herb carries bottles as well). A daily dose is 20 drops taken 3 times a day either on the tongue or added to a glass of water.

 Goldenrod Wine

Fill a mason jar halfway with freshly cut goldenrod herb. Top it off with a liter of good white wine, clos the jar, and let the mixture steep for 2 - 3 weeks in a dark, warm place. Strain the wine into another bottle. Drink 2 to 3 snifters daily.

For those of you who enjoy the stories behind plants, this comes from "The Book of Herbal Wisdom" by Mathew Wood.
All summer long, while other plants are flowering, Goldenrod is steadily raising its single stalk towards the sky. Finally, around the middle of August the golden-yellow spires appear. Both a staff and a spire are included in the picture. It is like the tarot card showing a man walking along a road with a heavy burden upon his back, a walking staff in his hand. His head is bent down, so that he does not see a church spire rising in the distance which shows that his destination is within reach. The message of Goldenrod is to endure to reach the goal.

The root tells a story as well. If you dig up the Goldenrod during the growing season you find the rootlets go downwards into the soil all summer long. When the weather starts to get cold it sends the roots out sideways, forming a compact mass just under the surface, as if the plant was storing for winter. The message is of free growth, then of change in order to prepare for a difficult time. The root holds onto the earth, just as the foot of the traveler cleaves to the path with determination to reach the goal.