Bluffton Packet

Tormented by allergies? Goldenrod is innocent. The real villain is ragweed!

Goldenrod and ragweed bloom side-by-side alongside an abandoned gas pump in an open field.”
Goldenrod and ragweed bloom side-by-side alongside an abandoned gas pump in an open field.” Special to The Bluffton Packet

It’s that time of the year again and the poor goldenrod blooming in all its glory is catching the blame for everyone’s allergies.

But goldenrod is mistakenly blamed because, in reality, no one can be allergic to goldenrod pollen.


For starters, it has virtually no pollen and is pollinated by insects. Only wind pollinated plants such as ragweed (which blooms at the same time as goldenrod) can cause allergic reaction. Ragweed is the guilty culprit.

In fact, the frilly, yellow goldenrod has many medicinal purposes: as a diuretic and to reduce pain and swelling caused by inflammation and muscle spasms. It is also used for gout, joint pain as in rheumatism and arthritis and to treat eczema and other skin conditions.

Goldenrod, known by its Latin name Solidago , means to “make whole.”

The flowers and the leaves can be infused with oil or used as a poultice for wounds and burns. When the infused oil is combined with plantains (a tropical plant of the banana family), yarrow (a composite plant having fernlike leaves), and St. John’s Wort, it makes a nice wound healing salve that is also a nice rub for tired achy muscles and arthritis pain.

More information on “The Health Benefits of Goldenrod” can be found at

Since the goldenrod flowers late in the summer, it is an important source of both nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies and some wasps.

Believe it or not, all the aerial parts of the plant can be used.

Leaves can be cooked like spinach or added to soup, stews or casseroles. They can be blanched and frozen for later use in soups, stews, or stir fry through the winter and spring. The flowers are edible and make attractive garnishes on salads, while the flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) are used to make tea, the web site says.

Goldenrod is a genus of 120 species of flowering plants in the Aster family found growing in open areas such as fields, meadows, roadsides, prairies and savannas. There is no shortage of goldenrod in September and October.

Ragweed is also a flowering plant in the Aster family and is notorious for causing allergic reactions. Up to half of all cases of pollen related allergic rhinitis (hay fever) are caused by ragweed.

It is a common, soft-stemmed weed with 17 different species, all ranging in size, height, color and flowering patterns. Though the several species may look slightly different, they are sure to have one thing in common: they produce copious amounts of pollen. A single plant may produce about a billion grains of pollen per season. That pollen is transported on the wind. Its pollen is very light, floating easily through the air. It has been been found up to 400 miles out at sea and two miles into the atmosphere.

Ragweed allergy effects can last the whole pollination season, ranging from August to November.

Some tips for you if you are susceptible to the allergic effects of ragweed and places to avoid:

Common sites for ragweed include riverbanks, roadsides, fields and in vacant lots. The seeds of ragweed can stay dormant for over 10 years and still grow into plants.

It tends to grow in rural areas in every state except Alaska. Maybe persons affected by ragweed should move to Alaska or spend their day indoors.

If you dare instead to spend sunny days outdoors, arm yourself with boxes of tissue and prepare to “ker-choo”!