Solidago virgaurea (PROSEA)
- Protologue: Sp. pl. 2: 880 (1753).
- Family: Compositae
- Chromosome number: 2n= 18
- Woundwort, European golden rod (En). Verge d’or, herbe des juifs (Fr)
- Philippines: tantaduk (Igorot)
- Vietnam: koàng kim phượng hou.
Origin and geographic distribution
S. virgaurea occurs in the wild in the northern temperate zone of the Old World, extending through Japan to southern China, Indo-China and Taiwan. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental in the temperate zone, and to a lesser extent in the tropics.
In general, Solidago comprises many species with medicinal properties. The "simplex solidaginis herba", which is derived from either S. virgaurea , S. canadensis L. or S. gigantea Aiton or a mixture of these species, is quite well known as a diuretic in western herbal medicine. Besides this diuretic effect, S. virgaurea is known in the northern temperate zone and in India for its lithotriptic, vulnerary, sudorific, spasmolytic, antihypertensive and carminative properties. It has been used for the treatment of asthma, whooping cough, internal lesions, oedema, chronic eczema, acute and chronic nephritis, and as an antipyretic in rheumatism. The powdered plant is applied to old ulcers, and a tea made from the leaves is administered against dysmenorrhoea and amenorrhoea. The dried and powdered root is used against diarrhoea and dysentery. In China, a decoction of the entire plant is used for the treatment of malaria and for expelling worms.
The medicinal properties of S. virgaurea are apparently unknown to the local inhabitants of Indo-China, Indonesia or the Philippines.
S. virgaurea is grown for ornamental purposes in Europe, Korea and China. In Korea, S. virgaurea , being a wild edible vegetable, has been tested for planting.
Production and international trade
Dried S. virgaurea plants are imported from China and are occasionally found in the Chinese markets in Vietnam and in Peninsular Malaysia.
Monographs of Solidago species, including S. virgaurea , can be found in several pharmacopoeias. The aerial parts of flowering S. virgaurea contain a volatile oil (0.4–-0.5%). Over 60 components have been identified, of which the terpeneγ-cadinene is the most abundant (40–-46%). Other constituents includeα-pinene (27-34%), myrcene (8-18%), germacrene-D (8-17%),β-pinene (5-8%), limonene (3-14%), sabinene (0.4-12%),α-humulene (3-4%),β-caryophyllene (2-3.5%) andα-muurolene (0.6-4%).
S. virgaurea is also very rich in flavonoids (1.5–-2%). So far, about 20 flavonoid-glycosides have been identified e.g. rutin (also known as rutoside or quercetin-3-rutinoside, 0.8%), isoquercitrin, hyproside, kaempferol and astralagin. It also contains 0.2-0.3% oleane type triterpene saponins, which are all mono- or bis-desmosides of polygalacic acid. Examples are virgaureasaponins 1, 2 and 3 and monodesmoside-A and -B, which have been isolated from all parts of S. virgaurea subsp. virgaurea . Other constituents include glycosides of benzylbenzoate: virgaureoside A and leiocarposide, isolated from the methanolic extract of the leaves and stalks before flowering.
The triterpene saponins exert fungicidal effects; they inhibit the growth of several Candida spp. and of Cryptococcus neoformans . In addition, virgaureasaponin 1 has cytotoxic properties. The saponins, as well as related carbohydrate modified glycosides of polygalacic acid and echinicystic acid, were investigated in view of their immunomodulating and anti-tumour effects. Mitogeneic effects on murine spleen and thymus cells, as well as on human mononuclear cells were demonstrated in vitro. The activity of murine bone marrow macrophages could be stimulated. An induction of cytotoxic macrophages and a TNF-αrelease from murine macrophages were observed. The mitogeneic and TNF-αreleasing virgaureasaponin E shows in vivo antitumour effects in the allogeneic sarcoma 180 tumour model and in the syngeneic DBA/2-MC.SC-1 fibrosarcoma tumour model. In mice, phagocytosis of bone marrow cells and proliferation of spleen and bone marrow cells were stimulated in an ex vivo assay, whereby the TNF-αconcentration in blood considerably increased.
The leiocarposide content of different parts of S. virgaurea grown in Germany was determined, and showed to be highest in leaves and flowers. Leiocarposide is a diuretic, an anti-inflammtory and an analgesic, but its intestinal resorption is very low: after oral administration to rats it was mostly excreted unchanged. Local application of leiocarposide to mice with arachidonic acid-induced ear oedema had a significant antiphlogistic effect at a concentration of 10-7mol/ear. Flavonoid fractions of S. virgaurea and S. canadensis flowers were administered orally to rats and resulted in diuretic activity. Increase in overnight diuresis reached 57-88%, and calcium excretion also increased.
The extracts of Fraxinus excelsior L., Populus tremula L. and Solidago virgaurea , in a combination of 1 : 3 : 1, are a well known phytomedicine in Germany, which possesses antipyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antirheumatic activity. In a test with carrageenan induced oedema and/or adjuvant induced arthritis of the rat paw, significant anti-inflammatory action was found for the 3 extracts separately and in combination.
The anti-oxidative properties of an S. virgaurea extract were further confirmed through its ability to inhibit lipid peroxidation of phosphatidylcholine liposomes as a model of biological membranes, and also through 1,1'-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical or OH radical scavenging activity assays. A water extract of the dried aerial parts was found to be active against herpes simplex type 2, influenza and polio viruses.
Finally, S. virgaurea shows a medium sensitizing capacity in tests with the open epicutaneous method and the guinea-pig maximization test.
Adulterations and substitutes
European pharmacopoeias do not differentiate between the 3 species normally used, i.e. S. virgaurea , S. canadensis or S. gigantea . Furthermore, the leaves of S. virgaurea are sometimes used as a substitute for tea, because of their aromatic odour and somewhat bitter, astringent taste.
A graceful, variable, perennial herb, with an erect, rarely branched stem, 60-100 cm tall, glabrous or hairy, roots short, without rhizomes. Leaves alternate, simple, lanceolate to ovate, 3.5-7 cm long, base attenuate, apex pointed, margins somewhat toothed, cauline leaves decreasing in size upwards, entire, glabrous above, usually pubescent beneath; petiole of lower leaves winged, upper leaves sessile; stipules absent. Inflorescence consisting of numerous heads in a terminal, long leafy panicle, with short ascending racemose branches; peduncles short; involucral bracts narrow and pointed, 3-seriate, yellowish-green; heads small, 4.5-8 mm in diameter. Ligulate flowers 6-12, female, corolla 7-9 mm long, spreading; tubular flowers 10-30, bisexual, corolla 4-7 mm long, golden yellow; stamens 5, connate; ovary inferior; style exerted, bifid. Fruit an oblong achene, 1-2.5 mm long, with about 8 ridges, glabrous or slightly hairy; pappus up to 3 mm long, white and silky. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Growth and development
S. virgaurea grows in clumps and reproduces through seeds. It is pollinated by insects, while the fruits are distributed by wind.
Other botanical information
Solidago belongs to the large tribe Astereae . S. virgaurea is the only Eurasian species of a mainly North American genus of about 80 species. Several species of Solidago are cultivated as ornamental perennials, of which S. canadensis is the most common. Hybrids between S. canadensis and S. virgaurea are often found, and are easily naturalized because of their weediness.
S. virgaurea (with S. virga-aurea as orthographic variant) is a very variable species and has been divided into a number of varieties, of which var. virgaurea occurs in Eurasia and North America. Var. leiocarpa (Benth.) Miq., with linear-lanceolate leaves, is the commonest variety in South-East Asia, and is distributed from Korea, through China and Japan, to the Philippines. Var. asiatica Nakai, with narrowly campanulate involucres, occurs in China and Japan.
In Java, 3 species of Solidago are cultivated as ornamentals: S. nemoralis Aiton, S. canadensis , and S. gigantea var. leiophylla Fernald. S. microglossa DC. is grown as an ornamental in Peninsular Malaysia.
In the Philippines, S. virgaurea is found on open grassy slopes and in thin pine forests, at an altitude of 1400-2100 m. In Europe, S. virgaurea grows on light soil, from sea-level to mountain tops. There are many eco-types of this species. When cultivated, it prefers sunny or partially shaded locations, with humid, well drained soils.
Propagation and planting
True to its weedy nature, S. virgaurea propagates through seed which is produced in abundance. When planted for ornamental purposes, it is propagated by seed or root cuttings. Time of planting affects the yield of flowering branches.
S. virgaurea is regarded as a plant that is easily grown. In Korea, plants sown in June as an ornamental have a higher yield of flowering branches than those sown in May, because of a higher bolting rate. The most effective N treatment is 40% of 180 kg/ha applied as a basal dose and 60% as a top dressing. In Finland, S. virgaurea is also cultivated for medicinal purposes, and gives the highest yields when seedlings are transplanted on ridges.
The aerial parts of S. virgaurea are mechanically harvested in Finland, 1-2 times per year. Seed production is high; 60-100% of the seeds are viable.
Dry herb yield of S. virgaurea planted on ridges in Finland was 45-60 g/plant.
Handling after harvest
The aerial parts of S. virgaurea are dried for further processing.
Genetic resources and breeding
S. virgaurea is widespread in the northern temperate zone, both in the wild and cultivated, and does not seem to be liable to genetic erosion. There are small gene bank collections in Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom. For the cultivated species, breeders concentrate mainly on a fuller and richer bloom.
Solidago species are well known in traditional medicine e.g. for their diuretic effect, which has been experimentally confirmed. Furthermore, S. virgaurea shows some interesting anti-inflammatory effects, thus meriting further research. The pharmacological effects make S. virgaurea locally important, and a potential medicinal crop for small-scale production.
- Bader, G., Luck, L., Schenk, R., Hirschelmann, R. & Hiller, K., 1998. Leiocarposid - Leitsubstanz zur Qualitätssicherung von Solidaginis virgaureae herba [Leiocarposide - the main substance for ensuring quality of Solidaginis virgaureae herba]. Pharmazie 53(11): 805-806.
- Chodera, A., Dabrowska, K., Sloderbach, A., Skrzypczak, L. & Budzianowski, J., 1991. Effect of flavonoid fractions of Solidago virgaurea L. on diuresis and levels of electrolytes. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica 48(5-6): 35-37. (in Polish)
- El Ghazaly, M., Khayyal, M.T., Okpanyi, S.N. & Arens-Corell, M., 1992. Study of the anti-inflammatory activity of Populus tremula, Solidago virgaurea and Fraxinus excelsior. Arzneimittelforschung 42(3): 333-336.
- Joleka, K. & Galambosi, B., 1998. Effect of ridge cultivation and plant density on growth and yield of some medicinal plants in Finland. Zeitschrift für Arznei- & Gewurzpflanzen 3(3/4): 139-145.
- Quisumbing, E., 1978. Medicinal plants of the Philippines. Katha Publishing Co., Quezon City, the Philippines. pp. 995-996
- Strehl, E., Schneider, W. & Elstner, E.F., 1995. Inhibition of dihydrofolate reductase activity by alcoholic extracts from Fraxinus excelsior, Populus tremula and Solidago virgaurea. Arzneimittel Forschung 45(2): 172-173. (in German)
Other selected sources
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- Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.
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Slamet Sutanti Budi Rahayu