The tops and leaves of Solidago odora, Aiton.
COMMON NAMES: Sweet goldenrod, Sweet-scented goldenrod, Fragrant-leaved goldenrod, Blue mountain tea.
Botanical Source.—This plant has a perennial, woody, much branched, and creeping root, and a slender, round yellowish-green stem, smooth or slightly pubescent below, pubescent at top, often reclined, and 2 or 3 feet in height. The leaves are closely sessile, linear-lanceolate, broad at base, entire, acute, rough at the margin, but otherwise smooth, with a prominent midrib, and covered with small pellucid dots. The flowers are of a deep golden-yellow color, in a terminal compound, and usually secund-paniculate raceme, the branches of which are very slender, rigid, and spread almost horizontally, are each accompanied by a small leaf, and support the flowers on downy pedicels, which put forth from the upper side of the peduncle, and have small, linear, subulate bracts at their base. Scales of the involucre oblong, acute, smooth, or slightly pubescent, the lower ones are shorter, and closely imbricating the rest. Florets of the ray few, with oblong, obtuse, yellow ligules, those of the disk funnel-shaped, with acute segments. The pappus is shorter than the florets of the disk. The leaves of this plant are from it to 3 inches long by from 3 to 5 lines broad, with a strong, yellowish midvein, but no veinlets (L.—-G.—W.).
History, and Chemical Composition.—This plant is common to the United States, growing in dry, fertile woodlands and sunny bills, and flowering from July to October. There are many species of this genus growing throughout the country, and which differ from each other in their degree of astringency and fragrance. The leaves and tops are the parts used; they have an odor, when bruised, resembling anise and sassafras, and a slightly astringent, spicy, rather pleasant taste; they contain a volatile oil, which may be procured by distilling them with water; it is of a pale-yellowish color. The oil obtained from the flowers is said to differ from that yielded by the leaves. When properly dried, the leaves form an excellent substitute for tea, and are collected and used for this purpose, under the name of "Blue mountain tea," among the German population in central Pennsylvania. The leaves impart their virtues to alcohol or boiling water; but boiling injures their properties. From the whole plant of Solidago rugosa, Wm. P. Oberhauser (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1893, p. 122) obtained 0.996 per cent of volatile oil; the odor of the oil from the flowers and the leaves resembles that of origanum. The flowers of S. bicolor, also growing in Pennsylvania, contain volatile oil and 2.5 per cent of a bitter resin (Adam Conrath, ibid., 1873, p. 253). The flowering and fresh herb of S. canadensis yields 0.63 per cent of volatile oil, chiefly consisting of pinene, with borneol, bornyl-aretate, and cadinene (Gildemeister and Hoffmann, Die Aetherischen Oele, 1899).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Sweet-scented goldenrod is gently stimulant and carminative, and, in warm infusion, diaphoretic. It may be given in infusion in flatulent colic, amenorrhoea, sickness at the stomach, and as a pleasant drink in convalescence from severe dysentery, diarrhoea, cholera morbus, etc.; and may also be added to nauseating medicines to render them more agreeable to the taste. The oil is carminative and diuretic; and its tincture or essence has been used as a diuretic in suppression of urine among infants, and as a local application in some forms of headache. Its essence is useful to remove flatulency, check vomiting,relieve cramp of the stomach, and to mask the unpleasant flavor of nauseous medicines. The flowers are said to be aperient, tonic, astringent, and diuretic, and have been found beneficial in gravel, urinary obstructions, ulceration of the bladder, and in the early stage of dropsy; taken in infusion (herb ℥i to water Oj) in doses of 1 or 2 fluid ounces; the oil, from 1 to 3 drops.
Related Species.—Solidago rigida, Linné, Hard-leaf goldenrod. This plant is also termed Rigid goldenrod. It has a simple stem, corymbose above, terete, striate, rough, minutely hairy, very leafy, 3 to 5 feet in height. Leaves 1 to 4 inches long, ovate-oblong, rough. with minute rigid hairs; upper ones entire, veiny, thick, rigid; lower closely sessile by a broad base, slightly serrate; radical ones lanceolate, acuminate, nerved, petiolate, sometimes nearly 1 foot long, 2 or 2 ½ inches broad. Flowers yellow, in a terminal, compound, close, compact, paniculate, raceme. Heads very large, about 34-flowered; rays twice the length of the obtuse involucre, deep-yellow, front 7 to 10, and about 3 lines by 1. Scales of the involucre round-obtuse, nerved, membranaceous at the edges (W.—G.). This is a tall species, growing in dry fields and rocky woods throughout the United States, and is abundant in the western prairies, flowering in August and September It is the styptic plant of old Dr. Bone, of New Jersey, who is said to have suppressed hemorrhages from large blood-vessels by applying it locally, in the powdered state; a property likewise attributed to the variable Solidago virga aurea, Linné, or European goldenrod, found in this country and Europe. The leaves and blossoms of S. rigida are the parts employed. They have an astringent taste, and yield their virtues to water or alcohol. Hardleaf goldenrod is tonic astringent, and styptic. In powder or infusion, it is beneficial in all external hemorrhages, epistaxis, hemoptysis, hematemesis, and hemorrhage from the bowels. Applied with excellent effect, in form of poultice, to old ulcers. The oil is diuretic. This plant deserves further investigation.
Solidago virga aurea, Linné, European goldenrod, has been revived as a diuretic and remedy for urinary disorders.
Solidago gigantea, Aiton, Smooth three-ribbed goldenrod, will likewise be found to possess similar virtues.
Chrysopsis argentea, Silver aster, also named C. graminifolia, belonging to this family of plants, forms a very powerful styptic application to wounds, and said to be the sheet-anchor in field-surgery among the Cherokees. Internally, it is beneficial in diarrhoea, dysentery, aphthous ulceration of the mouth, etc.