Plant Profiler

Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea)

Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Aaron's rod, acetylene, astragalin, beta-amyrin acetate, beta-dictyopterol, blue mountain tea, Canadian goldenrod, cinnamate, clerdane diterpene, early goldenrod, echte guldenroede (Dutch), elongatolide C, elongatolide E, European goldenrod, flavonoid, golden rod, goldrute, Goldrutenkraut (German), hydroxybenzoates, hyperoside, inulin, isoquercetin, kaempferol, kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside, leicarposide, liberty tea, liu chi nu ts'ao, methyl 3,5-di-O-caffeoyl quinate, nicotiflorin, oleanolic acid, phenolic acid, phenolic glucoside, polygalic acid, polysaccharide, quercetin, rutin, saponin, solidago, Solidago canadenis, Solidago gigantea, Solidago nemoralis, Solidago odora, Solidago serotina, Solildago spathulata, Solidago virgaurea, solidagolactone, tannin, trans-phytol, vara de oro, wound weed, wound wort, Yahudiotu, yellow weed.

Combination product examples: Phytodolor® (aspen, common ash, goldenrod).

Note: Avoid confusion with mullein, which is also referred to as goldenrod and with rayless goldenrod which is a species from the same family as goldenrod

Note: This monograph primarily discusses Solidago virgaurea.

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Goldenrod contains trans-phytol, ent-germacra-4(15),5,10(14)-trien-1alpha-ol, beta-amyrin acetate, ent-germacra-4(15),5,10(14)-trien-1beta-ol, beta-dictyopterol, oleanolic acid, kaempferol, kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside, methyl 3,5-di-O-caffeoyl quinate, and 3,5-di-O-caffeoyl quinic acid.20 The aerial parts of Solidago virgaurea contain virgaureasaponin 322 and acylated bisdesmosidic triterpenoid glycosides of polygalacic acid (2 beta, 3 beta, 16 alpha, 23-tetrahydroxyolean-12-en-28-oic acid)23.
  • Unsupported sources claim that the primary chemical constituents of goldenrod include saponins (based on polygalic acid), clerdane diterpenes (including elongatolide C, elongatolide E, and solidagolactones I-VII ), phenolic glucosides (leicarposide), flavonoids (astragalin, hyperoside, isoquercetin, nicotiflorin, quercetin, and rutin), inulin, essential oil, tannins, acetylenes, cinnamates, hydroxybenzoates, polysaccharides, and phenolic acids.
  • The closely related Solidago canadensis contains both enantiomers of germacrene D and lesser amounts of germacrene A, alpha-humulene, and beta-caryophyllene24, and 2'-hydroxy-4',6'-di-O-beta-d-glucopyranosyl-butyrrophenone25.
  • Analgesic effects: In an in vitro study, Solidago virgaurea extract had biological activity with receptors implicated in the mediation of pain11
  • Antifungal effects: In an in vitro study, triterpenoid glycosides obtained from Solidago virgaurea L. inhibited the growth of human-pathogenic yeasts (Candida and Cryptococcus species).12,13
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: A hydro-alcoholic extract of goldenrod has shown anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in inflammation models.6 In an animal study, a 46% ethanolic extract from goldenrod significantly reduced (p<0.05) the intensity of inflammation in Freund's adjuvant-induced arthritis of rat paw.7 In an in vitro study, Solidago virgaurea extract inhibited dihydrofolate reductase with an I50 value of 0.6% (volume/volume).21
  • Leiocarposide, a constituent of goldenrod, showed anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects after subcutaneous administration to rats and mice.8
  • Antimicrobial effects: In an in vitro study, extracts of Solidago virgaurea and Solidago graminifolia had amebostatic activity against pathogenic Acanthamoeba spp.14
  • Antitumor effects: In vitro studies have shown immunomodulatory effects on murine spleen and thymus cells and on human mononuclear cells.9 Virgaureasaponin E, a constituent found in goldenrod, has shown in vivo antitumor effects in mice.10 In an in vitro study, saponins from Solidago virgaurea L. showed cytotoxicity in YAC-1- and P-815-tumor cells.26 An active, water soluble component from Solidago virgaurea leaves exhibited strong cytotoxic activities on various tumor cell lines, including human prostate (PC3), breast (MDA435), melanoma (C8161), and small cell lung carcinoma (H520).27 These results were supported in vivo in a rat prostate cancer model with intraperitoneal and subcutaneous administration of a Solidago virgaurea fraction.
  • Cardiovascular effects: In animal studies goldenrod extract had hypotensive effects.17,18
  • Diuretic effects: In animal studies, goldenrod extract containing 0.3% flavonoids has shown a significant diuretic effect in rats.1 Another rat study using oral Solidago virgaurea flavonoids also showed a 57-88% increase in overnight diuresis; overnight excretion of potassium and sodium decreased and calcium excretion increased.19 Leiocarposide, a constituent of goldenrod has been shown to have a diuretic effect after oral or intra-peritoneal administration to rats and also inhibited growth of implanted human urinary calculi in the rat bladder.2,3,4,5
  • Muscular contraction activity: In one in vitro study, Solidaginis virgaurea extract inhibited carbachol-induced muscarinic receptor-mediated contraction of rat and human bladder tissues.15 In an animal study, a 60% hydroethanolic extract from goldenrod inhibited acetycholine-induced contractions of guinea pig ileum.16
  • Neurological effects: In animal studies goldenrod had sedative effects.17,18


  • Animal studies have shown that leiocarposide, a constituent of goldenrod, is excreted mostly unchanged in the urine after parenteral administration.28 Leiocarposide is also broken down in the colon of rats.


  1. Schilcher H and Rau H. Nachweis der aquaretischen Wirkung von Birkenblatter- und Goldrutenkrautauszugen im Tierversuch. Urologe B 1988;28:274-280.
  2. Budzianowski J. Die urologische Wirkung des Leiocarposids. Drogenreport 1999;12:20-21.
  3. Chodera, A., Dabrowska, K., Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T., Tkaczyk, J., Skrzypczak, L., and Budzianowski, J. [Effect of leiocarposide on experimental urinary calculi in rats]. Acta Pol Pharm 1988;45(2):181-186. 3239428
  4. Chodera, A., Dabrowska, K., Skrzypczak, L., and Budzianowski, J. [Further studies on the diuretic effect of leiocarposide]. Acta Pol Pharm 1986;43(5):499-503. 3565048
  5. Chodera, A., Dabrowska, K., Senczuk, M., Wasik-Olejnik, A., Skrzypczak, L., Budzianowski, J., and Ellnain-Wojtaszek, M. [Diuretic effect of the glycoside from a plant of the Solidago L. genus]. Acta Pol Pharm 1985;42(2):199-204. 4083055
  6. Okpanyi, S. N., Schirpke-von Paczensky, R., and Dickson, D. [Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic effect of various plant extracts and their combinations in an animal model]. Arzneimittelforschung 1989;39(6):698-703. 2476136
  7. el Ghazaly, M., Khayyal, M. T., Okpanyi, S. N., and Arens-Corell, M. Study of the anti-inflammatory activity of Populus tremula, Solidago virgaurea and Fraxinus excelsior. Arzneimittelforschung 1992;42(3):333-336. 1497695
  8. Metzner, J., Hirschelmann, R., and Hiller, K. [Antiphlogistic and analgesic effects of leiocarposide, a phenolic bisglucoside of Solidago virgaurea L.]. Pharmazie 1984;39(12):869-870. 6531401
  9. Plohmann, B., Bader, G., Hiller, K., and Franz, G. Immunomodulatory and antitumoral effects of triterpenoid saponins. Pharmazie 1997;52(12):953-957. 9442560
  10. Plohmann B, Franz G, Bader G, and Hiller K. Immunomodulatorische und antitumorale Aktivitat von Triterpensaponined aus Solidago virgaureaL. Drogenreport 1999;12:29-30.
  11. Sampson, J. H., Phillipson, J. D., Bowery, N. G., O'Neill, M. J., Houston, J. G., and Lewis, J. A. Ethnomedicinally selected plants as sources of potential analgesic compounds: indication of in vitro biological activity in receptor binding assays. Phytother Res 2000;14(1):24-29. 10641043
  12. Bader, G., Kulhanek, Y., and Ziegler-Bohme, H. [The antifungal action of polygalacic acid glycosides]. Pharmazie 1990;45(8):618-620. 2080212
  13. Bader, G., Seibold, M., Tintelnot, K., and Hiller, K. Cytotoxicity of triterpenoid saponins. Part 2: Relationships between the structures of glycosides of polygalacic acid and their activities against pathogenic Candida species. Pharmazie 2000;55(1):72-74. 10683877
  14. Derda, M., Hadas, E., Thiem, B., and Sulek, A. [Amebicidal plants extracts]. Wiad Parazytol  2004;50(4):715-721. 16862806
  15. Borchert, V. E., Czyborra, P., Fetscher, C., Goepel, M., and Michel, M. C. Extracts from Rhois aromatica and Solidaginis virgaurea inhibit rat and human bladder contraction. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 2004;369(3):281-286. 14963639
  16. Westendorf, J. and Vahlensieck, W. [Spasmolytic and contractile effects of a combination product from plants on the smooth muscle of the guinea pigs]. Arzneimittelforschung 1981;31(1):40-43. 7194092
  17. Lasserre, B., Kaiser, R., Pham, Huu Chanh, Ifansyah, N., Gleye, J., and Moulis, C. Effects on rats of aqueous extracts of plants used in folk medicine as antihypertensive agents. Naturwissenschaften 1983;70(2):95-96. 6843684
  18. Racz-Kotilla E and Racz G. Actiunea hipotensiva si sedative a extractelar de Solidago virgaureaL. Proc Acad Sc Bucuresti, Note Botanice 1977;13:1-5.
  19. Chodera, A., Dabrowska, K., Sloderbach, A., Skrzypczak, L., and Budzianowski, J. [Effect of flavonoid fractions of Solidago virgaurea L on diuresis and levels of electrolytes]. Acta Pol Pharm 1991;48(5-6):35-37. 1669338
  20. Choi, S. Z., Choi, S. U., and Lee, K. R. Phytochemical constituents of the aerial parts from Solidago virga-aurea var. gigantea. Arch Pharm Res 2004;27(2):164-168. 15022716
  21. Strehl, E., Schneider, W., and Elstner, E. F. Inhibition of dihydrofolate reductase activity by alcoholic extracts from Fraxinus excelsior, Populus tremula and Solidago virgaurea. Arzneimittelforschung 1995;45(2):172-173. 7710442
  22. Bader, G., Wray, V., and Hiller, K. Virgaureasaponin 3, a 3,28-bisdesmosidic triterpenoid saponin from Solidago virgaurea. Phytochemistry 1992;31(2):621-623. 1367971
  23. Bader, G., Wray, V., and Hiller, K. The main saponins from the aerial parts and the roots of Solidago virgaurea subsp. virgaurea. Planta Med 1995;61(2):158-161. 7753924
  24. Prosser, I., Phillips, A. L., Gittings, S., Lewis, M. J., Hooper, A. M., Pickett, J. A., and Beale, M. H. (+)-(10R)-Germacrene A synthase from goldenrod, Solidago canadensis; cDNA isolation, bacterial expression and functional analysis. Phytochemistry 2002;60(7):691-702. 12127586
  25. Zhang, J., Zhang, X., Lei, G., Li, B., Chen, J., and Zhou, T. A new phenolic glycoside from the aerial parts of Solidago canadensis. Fitoterapia 9-23-2006;17067755
  26. Bader, G., Plohmann, B., Hiller, K., and Franz, G. Cytotoxicity of triterpenoid saponins. Part 1: Activities against tumor cells in vitro and hemolytical index. Pharmazie 1996;51(6):414-417. 8767852
  27. Gross, S. C., Goodarzi, G., Watabe, M., Bandyopadhyay, S., Pai, S. K., and Watabe, K. Antineoplastic activity of Solidago virgaurea on prostatic tumor cells in an SCID mouse model. Nutr Cancer 2002;43(1):76-81. 12467138
  28. Fotsch, G., Pfeifer, S., Bartoszek, M., Franke, P., and Hiller, K. [Biotransformation of phenolglycosides leiocarposide and salicin]. Pharmazie 1989;44(8):555-558. 2594827

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