This week I was surprised to find several small stands of Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) at Holt Wood. I usually head for patches of yellow as they are likely to be  Ragworts – the Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) can spread quickly, and when dried it is toxic to cattle and sheep. This is not such a problem for us but not good for hay in the neighbouring grass meadow so I try to stop the plants reaching seedbearing stage to reduce spread. As I grasped this particular plant to pull it out of the ground I suddenly realised that it just did not have the right leaves for Ragwort which are pinnatifid, or deeply cut in lobes. The leaves of the Goldenrod are entire and untoothed. Goldenrod is the only native to the UK of the Solidago species, although the introduced species of Canadian Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) and Early Goldenrod (S. gigantea) are listed in Francis Rose, The Wild Flower Key (2006 edition). Perhaps the dryness of the summer has encouraged the Goldenrod this year. The plant (flowers and leaves) is aromatic, stimulant, carminative according to Maud Grieve, A Modern Herbal  (1976 edition) but present day use is more likely to be as an astringent and diuretic. There is a detailed US Solidago spp.
Solidago virgaurea 5 September 2013
Goldenrod flowers

article at
Goldenrod has many potential uses from wound healing to kidney supprt, and makes a tasty tea. When we have expanded our population of Goldenrod then we can harvest to dry and have an ongoing supply.

Exeter Green Fair
What a great day out! Lots of stalls promoting sustainable living and wonderful foods. There were a few rain showers but we were saved by our neat self-erecting (almost) gazebo. Our stand for the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust carried information about Tree Aid, local herbal practitioners offering drop ins, and projects involved in medicinal tree and shrub growing including Holt Wood. Our Plant Identification Quiz  drew quite a few people in to try their luck – several  people correctly identified at least 10 medicinal plants and won a bottle of organic Lavender Essential Oil. Thanks to Helen, Kay and others for all their help – it was great to chat with visitors about sustainable herbal medicine and the Distilled Witch Hazel (first in Devon and available at provoked a lot of interest and discussion about air miles in getting supplies of herbs and cosmetics. Congratulations to raffle winners who won a bottle of Bickleigh-grown wine, a herbal first aid kit and other goodies.


Exeter Green Fair, September 2013