from the Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism:
Solidago virgaurea L COMPOSITAE
The common name refers to the herb's appearance. It is an attractive plant and has been taken into cultivation as a useful late-flowering ornamental.
The herb is not certainly mentioned in ancient writings and there is evidence that it was particularly promoted by the Arabs in the Middle Ages, since to fifteenth and sixteenth century Italians it was known as Erba pagana and the Germans called it Consolida Saracenia. Golden Rod has principally been used as a wound herb, hence the name consolida from the Latin to make whole - and hence its generic name. Traditionally it was employed both externally and internally. Clarke introduced an extract of the fresh flowers to homeopathic medicine in igo2, and in 1949 it was discovered by Hager that Brazilians used the closely related herb S. microcosms DC as a wound plant, too.
Description Erect perennial to 1 m tall; on knotted rhizome. Stems usually sparsely branched, sometimes unbranched. Leaves alternate, pubescent, the basal ones obovate to oblanceolate and petiolate, to 10 cm long. Upper leaves smaller and becoming sessile. Leaves either dentate or entire. Flowers golden-yellow, to 15 mm wide, arranged in terminal panicles; appearing late summer to late autumn.
Distribution Native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. Introduced elsewhere. In woodland clearings, wood edges, grassland; on deep porous acid and calcareous soils, to 2800 m altitude.
Cultivation Wild plant. Propagated horticulturally by division in spring or autumn, or from seed sown in spring. Prefers open conditions, and soils which are not too rich.
Constituents Essential oil; flavonoids; tannins; saponins; various organic acids comprising mainly citric, tartaric and oxalic acids; unknown substances.
Uses(dried flowering plant) Anti-inflammatcry; expectorant; vulnerary; astringent; weakly diuretic.
Of much use applied externally in poultices or ointments to assist tissue healing; used internally for the same purpose, and also in urinogenital inflammations or to treat chronic skin problems.
Formerly taken as an adjuvant (assisting agent) with other remedies, of benefit in asthma, arthritis and rheumatism.
Rarely used in cases of diarrhoea. Its ability to reduce cholesterol levels is not clinically substantiated.