goldenrod vs ragweed

Goldenrod vs Ragweed: One Benefits Pollinators, One Causes Allergies

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Today we will explore goldenrod vs ragweed, how to tell these two plants apart, and the benefits and uses of each plant. 

In the early autumn months, many Americans are plagued by fall allergies due to their exposure to certain plants. One of these plants is ragweed, which can cause hay fever symptoms that include sneezing and itchy eyes. However, some people often mistake goldenrod for ragweed because they often grow in the same locations and bloom at the same time.  However, goldenrod is rarely the culprit of these allergies.

goldenrod vs ragweed

Goldenrod vs. Ragweed

Your allergies are probably not caused by the goldenrod that is growing in your backyard. It’s very unlikely because its pollen is thick and sticky, and is pollinated by insects instead of the wind. Whereas, ragweed has tiny, light pollen that can easily blow around on even the slightest breeze and can travel for hundreds of miles!

But not only are there differences in the way these plants are pollinated, but there are also marked differences in how these two plants look. In fact, they really don’t look much alike at all.

goldenrod vs ragweed

Goldenrod Identification

Goldenrod (Solidago species) is a perennial plant native to North America with bright, cheery yellow blooms.  The central stalk of goldenrod is generally green and smooth, rising 3-6′ tall. These stems will not have branches except near the top, where the bright yellow flowers are. Along the main stalk, there are alternate leaves that are lance or spearhead shaped. The branches at the top of the stem contain a lot of tiny yellow flowers.

Goldenrod tends to grow along roadsides and in open fields where they receive loads of sunlight year-round. These factors help goldenrod thrive in weather conditions that would typically wilt other types of greenery.  

goldenrod vs ragweed

Ragweed Identification

Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) grows from 1 to 5 feet tall with green, hairy stems. Its leaves are divided into narrow segments; each irregularly lobed. Ragweed flowers are 2 to 4-inch long terminal spikes of green to yellow flowers that aren’t bright or striking like goldenrod. Ragweed is an upright growing plant that has leaves that look almost fern-like, feathery, and green.

Medicinal Uses Goldenrod vs Ragweed

Surprisingly, both goldenrod and ragweed have medicinal uses.

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Goldenrod has been purportedly known for its potential benefits in supporting urinary tract health and its possible efficacy as a UTI herb. In Germany, it’s also used as an agent to potentially increase urine production, which may help with kidney and bladder inflammation (Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

The flowers and leaves of goldenrod are edible. The flowers can make a cheery garnish on salads, and both the flowers and leaves (fresh or dried) can be used to make tea. The leaves might be cooked like spinach or added to soups, stews, or casseroles, and they can also be blanched and frozen for later use in soups, stews, or stir-fry throughout the winter or spring.

Goldenrod has also been traditionally used to address a variety of conditions such as tuberculosis, diabetes, liver enlargement, gout, hemorrhoids, internal bleeding, asthma, and arthritis.

Ragweed may have astringent, antiseptic, emetic, emollient, and fever-reducing properties. Herbalists sometimes use ragweed to potentially relieve nausea, menstrual discomfort, and fever. Some Native American tribes have used the seeds as a source of nourishment and the root of the ragweed plant to make a tea that might act as a laxative. The juice from crushed ragweed leaves can possibly be applied to insect bites or poison ivy rashes to soothe irritation.


We hope you have enjoyed this guide to goldenrod vs ragweed, and hope it’s helped you identify the differences between these two plants. Whether you have one of these weeds in your own backyard or just want to learn more about them, please feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or concerns! You can also find other useful information on this blog by checking out our other posts, or better yet, subscribe to our newsletter!

Disclaimer- I am not a medical professional. All information shared here is for information and entertainment only. Do your own research and consult your health care provider before treating yourself with any product, plant or mixture. 

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