August 29

Tuesday Treasures

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"Sun Medicine"

There are over 125 species of goldenrod throughout the world, with fifty varieties calling New England home.  Its familiar tall wands and plumes will soon dominate nearby fields and roadsides.  And, as competition from late summer flowers begins to fade, goldenrod will have no difficulty flagging down hungry bees.  In fact, goldenrod is considered one of the more important “bee” plants...which is why we introduced it to the Teaching Garden this year.

Indigenous populations referred to the plant as “Sun Medicine,” because of its medicinal properties. Through the years, goldenrod has been used to calm stomachs, curtail nausea, cure wounds and treat bronchitis and even tuberculosis.  When swallowed, its nectar relieves sore throats.  If you have a tooth ache ... try chewing a poultice of its roots.

It is said that golden rod would be enjoying the status of America’s “national flower,” if it were not for the fact that we blame it for our annoying bouts of annual hay-fever.  But that’s actually a bum rap, because the true culprit is the ragweed growing nearby.