The Latin name Solidago is a compound of solidum agere, meaning to make firm, whole, healthy. In earlier times this plant was primarily used for healing wounds. This is reflected in the German folk name “Heidnisch Wundkraut”, which means “heathen woundwort”. The German name “Unsegenkraut” or “curse herb”, suggests that goldenrod was also used as a defensive remedy against witchcraft and the evil eye.
In the herbals of the Middle Ages, the name “solidago” is also used for comfrey. The authors of the day referred to heathen woundwort as Solidago sarracenica or Consolidas sarracenica and Herbam fortem. According to Lonicerus, the small pointed woundwort is none other than the Panax Chironium Dioscoridis. It is surprising that the early herbals make no mention of goldenrod. In 1565 Hieronymus Bock wrote that the ancient Germanic tribes considered goldenrod the most valuable of the wound herbs. It was said to heal all “inner deficiency”. Matthiolus was the first herbal author to underline its diuretic effect, claiming it was “powerful in increasing the flow of rine and dissolving stones”. The name of the species, virga aurea, means golden rod.
Goldenrod is a hardy plant with a cylindrical, knotty rhizome, from which a round stem grows in springtime. It attains a height of 20 to 50 cm, sometimes reaching up to 1 m. The lower part of the stem is usually non-branching, with a reddish tinge; it branches out further towards the top. The alternate leaves have a pointed elliptical shape with a dentate edge. Towards the flowering end of the plant the leaves become narrow and lanceolate with smooth edges. Numerous stalked golden yellow flowers form an elongated composite cluster at the top end of the stem. The flowers open from the bottom upwards. Once they have withered, a pappus forms in the calyx and disperses the tiny fruits on the wind. The genus Solidago is classified into more than 100 species, which crossbreed easily and form new varieties. European goldenrod is divided into two subspecies which are both polymorphous. Precise identification is not easy. It is, however, easy to differentiate European from Canadian goldenrod, which was introduced to Europe in the last century.
The flowering period is from July to September.
The species Solidago virgaurea L. or true goldenrod, S. serotina AITON (syn. S. gigantea WILLDENOW) or giant goldenrod and S. canadensis L. or Canadian goldenrod and their hybrids share a common monograph E. This is only partially tenable according to Prof. Schilcher, since the various species of goldenrod have different active ingredients [2,3]. True goldenrod has become a rarity in the herb market.
Goldenrod occurs ubiquitously in the entire northern hemisphere, reaching from North Africa up into the far north. It favours the transitional areas from dry meadow to forest edge and can also be found in dry woodlands, clearings, heathlands and dunes. It is also found on rocks up to a height of 2500 m.
A.Vogel/Bioforce grows its own true goldenrod in organic cultivation and obtains additional batches of the herb from organic contract cultivation. Harvesting takes place when a small portion of the flowers are open and the majority still closed. Research conducted by Bioforce has shown that this is when the flavonoid content of the plant is at its highest. The freshly harvested aerial parts of the plant are macerated in alcohol to obtain a tincture.