Sweet Goldenrod vs Ragweed

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora) isn't your common goldenrod. This one has a sweet anise-like flavor. The leaves as well as the flowers make a very pleasant, fragrant tea. It grows in part to full sun in sandy soil along the edges of pine groves and roadsides in northern Arkansas (and is found from Florida up the Eastern U.S. to Nova Scotia; It is also the state flower of Delaware). Mine has been in bloom in the garden for several weeks and attracts several kinds of butterflies as well as bees. (The honey from sweet goldenrod should be fantastic!)

Goldenrod has gotten a bad rap over the years. Because this plant is in bloom when the fall allergy season starts, pharmaceutical companies (or rather, their PR firms) have photographed fields of goldenrod, inferring your fall allergies come from goldenrod. It's been proven to be false advertising, but since goldenrod has no lobbyists, it continues.

Goldenrod has large-sized pollen, whereas ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) has tiny, dust-like pollen that is easily lapped up in a breeze. Ragweed is the culprit, it's just not as colorful to photograph for a t.v. ad. There are 17 varieties of ragweed in North America.

It's not easy to tell the difference between "regular" goldenrod and sweet goldenrod by looking unless you're a plant geek. The sure way to know, is break off a leaf and smell it. If it has an anise or licorice fragrance, taste it. The flowers taste better than the leaves, but both are pleasant flavored. To make tea, slightly crush up 4 or 5 leaves, or a teaspoon of fresh or dried flowers. Pour a cup of boiling water over and cover with a lid and let steep for 5 minutes to extract the flavor. Sweeten with honey. It's a good bedtime tea, relaxing.

Sweet Goldenrod Cookies
3 cups sifted flour (I use unbleached all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup room temp. butter
1 egg, messed up, or beaten
3 Tbsp. half-and-half
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. Sweet Goldenrod flowers (fresh or dry)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in food processor and pulse-blend once. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse blend for 15 or 20 seconds, until blended.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Chill dough for 30 minutes in refrigerator, then drop by tablespoons onto an oiled cookie sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 6-7 minutes.

1 comment:

Grumpy Gardener said...

Let's keep spreading the gospel, Jim, until people finally listen. GOLDENROD DOES NOT CAUSE ALLERGIES!!!