COLUMNISTS

Benefits of goldenrod are nothing to sneeze about

Jerry Apps
Goldenrods along with milkweed flowers are favorites for the endangered Monarch butterfly.

Many will remember the poem, September, by Helen Hunt Jackson. The first lines, “The goldenrod is yellow, the corn is turning brown, the trees in apple orchards with fruit are bending down.” The prairie at my farm is a field of yellow goldenrods everywhere.

Someone said to me recently, when I shared a bit about my goldenrods and how beautiful they were, “You must not have any allergies, you know that goldenrods make you sneeze.”

I had to tell him he was wrong. Goldenrods do not make you sneeze. Ragweeds are often found near goldenrods and the pollen from them makes you sneeze, but not goldenrods. I have no ragweeds in my prairie, so no sneezing when I work there.

Goldenrods are native to North America. About 20 different species of this interesting wildflower grow in Wisconsin—8 to 10 species are fairly common. The Canada Goldenrod or common golden rod is most often found in this state. Besides being a rather beautiful wildflower, it will grow on good as well poor soil and require no care whatever. Their pollen is enjoyed by bees and butterflies. Goldenrods along with milkweed flowers are favorites for the endangered Monarch butterfly.

Considerable folklore is associated with the goldenrod flower. Its Latin name is Solidago, which means whole, and is thought to be a reference to its possible healing powers. Native Americans used goldenrod as an herb to cure various illnesses including respiratory problems and wound healing. Some people also believe that if you find goldenrods growing near your home, it is considered a sign of prosperity.

Until I did a little research, I did not know about all the good things associated with goldenrods. I mostly enjoy their beauty.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Be careful about accusing something as being bad, when it really is most beneficial.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to www.jerryapps.com.