The Medicinal Plant Garden

of Birmingham-Southern College

  • Solidago nemoralis
  • Solidago nemoralis

Common Name

Old-field goldenrod, gray goldenrod, gray leaf goldenrod, dwarf goldenrod, and prairie goldenrod (USDA).

Related Species

S. canadensis, S. erecta and S. odora.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat

Solidago nemoralis is abundant in eastern and mid-west United States and the southern half of Canada. It grows in full sun and dry soil. Although old-field goldenrod can grow in fertile soil, it is healthiest in gravel, sand, and clay soils. If the soil is too fertile the plant will not live as long. This species can be found growing in a variety of habitats: roadsides, meadows, prairies, savannas, sand dunes, and thickets, to name a few. In suitable locations, they will grow in groups (USDA).

Description

Solidago nemoralis is a perennial wildflower that is between 6 inches and 2.5 feet tall. The pubescent leaves are alternate and at most 4 inches long and ¾ inches wide. They taper in to a narrow base. Leaf margins are smooth or may be slightly serrated. It produces a compound yellow flower in the fall. Seeds are wind distributed (USDA).

Portion of the Plant Used

Primarily, the roots and leaves have been used (Moerman, 1998).

Traditional Uses

Native Americans used every part of the Goldenrod plant for a variety of reasons. They used S. nemoralis root for kidney problems, and a wash or poultice was used for skin ulcers or burns (Moerman, 1998). Jaundice and kidney disorders were treated with liquid from boiled Goldenrod roots (USDA). The roots were also used to treat burns and boils and were chewed on to reduce toothaches (Shimer, 2004). Liquid used to boil the leaves can be applied to the skin to wash ulcers and burns (USDA). The leaves were often made into a tea and used to treat a variety of conditions such as colic, asthma, measles, and headaches. A lotion made from the flowers was thought to reduce localized swelling and soothe bee stings. It was also believed that an unconscious person could be awakened from the smoke of burning Goldenrod. Native Americans also used the plant to treat bladder, and gallbladder issues.

Goldenrod contains leiocarposide, a compound that can act as a strong diuretic. It is for this reason that German physicians recommend goldenrod for treating and preventing gallstones, kidney stones, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections (Shimer, 2004).
There are a number of species in this genus that seem to be more commonly used than S. nemoralis. S. canadensis has been used as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, sedative, astringent, and blood pressure reducer, among others (Ody, 1993). S. canadensis is often used in modern times to alleviate weakness of the stomach, to treat hay fever, tuberculosis, and can be applied topically to help with bruises and ruptures (Culpeper, 1975). Other species that have traditional uses include S. erecta and S. odora (Garrett, 2003).

 

Research

Little or no research is being done on S. nemoralis, but related species are being studied for their anti-cardiotoxic (El-Tantawy, 2013), hypo-lipidemic (Huang et al., 2013), and anti-asthmatic (Šutovská et al., 2013) activities. Four kaurane diterpenes have been isolated in the leaves of Solidago nemoralis (Cooper-Driver, 1987).

Side Effects, Interactions, and Contraindications

This is a very safe plant but some people may develop an allergic reaction. Those who have hay fever or other allergies should use extreme caution (Shimer, 2004).