Fall is quickly approaching, only a mere ten days away! The days are quickly becoming shorter and the nights just a touch cooler. If you walk close to our beehives, they are swarming with activity. Bees are always working hard to store their food for the winter, but you may notice something else about the hives: the smell. Late summer and early fall is goldenrod season. While spring dandelions are the primary pollen source for bees, goldenrod in is the primary nectar source in the fall. While goldenrod honey is delicious, the smell of the nectar is sour and pungent. I can often smell the hives from over a hundred feet away! I wanted to take a quick moment to talk about vital “weed,” goldenrod, its herbal benefits and the resulting goldenrod honey.
Goldenrod is not just a prevalent weed, it also has many benefits in herbal medicine. According to Healthline, Goldenrod is full of many “beneficial plant compounds, including saponins and flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol.” Both saponins and antioxidants are considered to inhibit growth of certain bacteria and fungus, and possess anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Significant research has shown goldenrod has more antioxidants than green tea! Check out the Healthline article for more information and a complete list of research references.
If goldenrod itself contains many useful properties, wouldn’t that mean that goldenrod honey is extra special? While most research has been focused on goldenrod itself, we already know honey contains lots of good-for-you properties. It is believed that honey takes on many of the properties from the plant from which it was sourced, meaning the benefits of the plant become benefits in the honey!
While the hive itself smells pungent during goldrenrod season, thankfully the honey is quite delicious with a deep amber, almost maple syrup color. As I quickly learned from the first year of harvesting goldenrod honey, this honey also crystallizes rapidly. That is the main reason my favorite mode of packaging honey is in small mason jars with a wide mouth for spooning.
Honey is also believed to be beneficial in reducing seasonal allergies, especially if the honey contains nectar sourced from the particular plant-allergen in question. While this has largely been thought to be a placebo effect, exposure therapy to reduce allergic reactions have shown some promise, particularly with peanut allergies. Always consult with your doctor before trying at-home or herbal treatment therapies, in most cases it certainly wouldn’t hurt to dip your spoon into a little honey.
Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine has a well-written and well-researched article discussing goldenrod and its uses. In particular they include a recipe for Goldenrod Tea, which may be useful in treatment for UTI’s, and a Goldenrod Tincture, useful for allergies, colds, and sinus trouble.
Let me know if you have any questions, thoughts, comments or concerns.