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Making Car Tires from Goldenrod?

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Here’s a fun fact about goldenrod which is coming into bloom across the states. According to the A C Moore Herbarium, over thirty species of goldenrod, the genus Solidago, have been collected in South Carolina, some grow all over the place while others occur in just a few counties When rubber was difficult to get during World War One, Henry Ford asked Thomas Edison to find a plant native to the US that could be used for rubber production so he could have tires for his cars. Surprisingly, goldenrod turned out to be the solution. As our roadsides make obvious, goldenrod is really easy to grow and can yield decent amounts of latex when processed. But cheaper synthetic rubber came on the market and our farmers grow fields of fluffy white cotton instead of fields of gold.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.