Introduced as an ornamental plant from its native North America, goldenrod is now a very common sight in the wild, as the plant rampantly spread into vast carpets on riverbanks and wastelands alike.
This perennial goes unnoticed most of the year among the green grasses, displaying beautiful yellow pyramid clustered flowers on late summer, highly attractive to the happy bees.
Description and species
Goldenrod (Solidago sp) is a genus comprising more than 100 species of flowering plants in the Aster family, mostly native to North America.
Although there is a native European goldenrod (Solidago virguarea), Canadian goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis) is a very common wildflower in Britain. Sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora) is more suitable for the garden and the leaves have a more delicate anise scent.
Different species can be difficult to distinguish, as they all have very similar bright yellow flower heads and hybridise.
Notes on edibility
Goldenrod is well known for its medicinal properties and there is an endless list of suggested uses. Therefore, tea is the most obvious use.
More interested in the culinary aspect of plants, I could not be able to find the right way to get the most of it. I prefer to think of dishes not absorbing the full flavour rather than thinking they are flavourless plants. Apparently, Solidago odora species are more fragrant.
There are also lots of articles on internet unfairly blaming goldenrod for seasonal allergies. That is because is commonly mistaken with ragweed, another plant with yellow flowers commonly found in North America, but rarely found in Britain.
Foraging on season
Young top leaves can be harvested anytime of the year, preferably before flowers bloom, meanwhile bright yellow blossoms appear late summer. There is no shortage of flowers in September and October. Seeds can also be eaten.
Goldenrod can be found in all kinds of soils, but tend to favour roadsides, wasteland and canalside. They will literally grow anywhere.
Storage and processing
Goldenrod can be eaten in both raw and dried form. Young leaves can be dried in high quantities for convenience and used as a regular herb. Alternatively, blossoms make a rather herby medicinal tea.
Culinary uses and recipes
Dried flowers and leaves are mainly used on medicinal teas and infusions. Some people use them as a seasoning as well, but I find them tasteless.
Fresh young leaves can add a different note to a forager’s salad; meanwhile their beautiful flowers look great used on presentation purposes.
I am currently exploring new recipes, but I find interesting the idea of cooking an old American dish called ‘eggs a la goldenrod’ with actual blooms on it. I have also seen a recipe for goldenrod cornbread.
It can alternatively be used to make country wine or vinegar.