Roseroot is a traditional medicinal plant from the Arctic region. Here you can find out how to plant and care for this perennial plant.
Profile of roseroot:
Scientific name: Rhodiola rosea
Plant family: stonecrop family (Crassulaceae)
Other names: golden root, rose root, rose-root, Aaron’s rod, Arctic root, king’s crown, lignum rhodium, orpin rose
Sowing time: early spring or autumn (outdoors)
Planting time: spring
Flowering period: May to July
Harvest time: autumn: rootstock; spring: leaves, flowers
Soil quality: stony to sandy, lime sensitive, moderately nutritious, low in humus
These information are for temperate climate!
Use as a medicinal herb: Alzheimer, cold, concentration disorders, defensive weakness, dementia, depressions, exhaustion, fears, forgetfulness, headaches, stress, tiredness, weakness
Use in: embankments, borders, group planting, dry stone walls, apothecary garden, rock garden, potted garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 1 (-48 °C / -55 °F)
Bee and insect friendly:
Plant characteristics and classification of roseroot
Plant order, origin and occurrence of roseroot
The roseroot (Rhodiola rosea) is a succulent perennial of the genus Rhodiola and belongs to stonecrop family (Crassulaceae). The extremely robust and hardy perennial is native to the arctic regions of the northern hemisphere. There it grows mainly on silicate rock. However, it can also be found on wet meadows, moorland soils or dry sandy soils. The name “roseroot” is somewhat misleading, because the rose is not related to the plant at all. During his journey through Lapland, Carl von Linné discovered the plant on the Vallevare near Kvikkjokk and christened the plant “Rhodiola rosea” because the rootstock gives off a rose-like odor when it is cut off.
For centuries, the roseroot has been considered a traditional remedy for stress and concentration problems, especially in the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Russia. In Siberia, the plant is therefore also called the “Golden Root”. In 1975 the extract was officially approved as a medicine and has since then had a firm place in naturopathy.
Characteristics of roseroot
The clump-forming perennial grows very persistently and reaches a height of 5 to 30 centimeters (2 to 12 in) and a growth width of up to 20 centimeters (8 in). Roseroot has strong, upright flower stems and thick, branched rhizomes that smell of roses when dried.
The grey-green, fleshy leaves are alternately arranged. They are broadly ovate to narrowly inverted lanceolate and about 4 cm (1.6 in) long. The edge can be entire or serrated.
In early summer, the roseroot develops dense, terminal cyme that look like small half-spheres. On these half-spheres are about 30 to 70 pink flower buds, which open from May to July to six millimeter wide, bright yellow-green flowers. The flowers are arranged radially symmetrically. The flowers of the rose root are dioecious and of separate sexes. This means that there are both male and female plants. The petals of the female flowers are yellow at first, but turn reddish-orange when withering. The male flowers are purple.
After flowering, the roseroot develops small, fleshy and hairy follicle fruits of about 4 to 6 mm in size. As soon as the fruit has taken on a red to light red color, it is ripe and opens from above to scatter its seeds.
Roseroot – cultivation and care
Since the perennial normally occurs in alpine altitudes, it prefers a location in the blazing sun.
The soil should be well-drained, lime-free and only moderately nutrient-rich.
Rose root is best planted in spring. The distance between the individual plants is about 25 centimeters (10 in). To make sure that the perennial is shown to its best advantage, you should plan about 16 plants per square meter. Before planting, you should loosen the soil well so that the long taproot of the roseroot can spread unhindered. Large stones or similar will be removed. To make heavy soils more permeable, you can mix in some gravel into the soil.
Care / Watering / Fertilization
Roseroot is a relatively uncomplicated perennial that requires no care whatsoever. It should be watered from time to time in summer when the soil is in danger of drying out. Regular fertilization is usually not necessary. However, it is recommended to apply a little ripe compost to the soil in spring.
Roseroot can be propagated at will either by division, sowing or cutting.
For propagation by sowing you need seeds, which you can get in specialized shops. Seeds from your own cultivation are not recommended, as the resulting plants are often not varietally pure.
Sowing is done in early spring, preferably in a greenhouse. Fill the seed tray with a mixture of clay and sand, which should not be too moist. The seed should not be covered afterwards, as rose root is one of the light germinators. The temperature should always be above 10 °C / 50 °F.
It takes between two and four weeks for the seed to germinate. The plants are then separated and kept in the greenhouse for the rest of the year. The young plants should not be planted outdoors until after the next winter.
Sowing in autumn can be done directly in the bed.
The perennial can be divided from spring to early summer. However, roseroot can also be propagated quite easily by cuttings.
Normally the roseroot is hardly ever found growing wild. In the far north, one can find the rose-root growing rather wild.
Occasionally, one can find it in the wild after it has escaped from gardens.
In general, however, you have to plant it yourself in the garden to be able to harvest it.
At the earliest at the age of three years the rootstock is large enough to be harvested. Autumn is the harvest time for the rhizomes.
To do this, the rhizome is dug up and a piece of it is left in the ground so that the plant can grow again.
The rhizome is cleaned and then dried in partially shady conditions.
You can also prepare a tincture directly with the fresh rhizome.
The leaves are collected in the spring and the flowers are collected at the time of flowering.
You can dry them and later prepare a tea from them.
Diseases and pests
Roseroot is extremely resistant to diseases and most pests. Rhodiola is only susceptible to aphids.
As the plant is absolutely hardy, it does not need a sheltered location or a cover in winter.
Use in the garden
Roseroot is ideal for stone or alpine gardens. However, the perennial plant also comes into its own in the foreground of borders.
In order to protect the populations in nature and at the same time meet the high demand, the Agroscope Changings-Wädenswil ACW Research Station has already cultivated the world’s first variety for commercial cultivation in 2011. The variety is called ‘Mattmark’ and was cultivated from a roseroot from the Saas Valley in the canton of Valais. ‘Mattmark’ is characterized by rapid growth and a high active ingredient content.
Roseroot as a medicinal herb
Rose root is a natural adaptogen. Even the Vikings knew about the healing effect of the rose root and used the root to strengthen their immune system and thus prevent colds. The bulbous root contains, among other things, flavonoids, which have been proven to have numerous therapeutic effects. Similar to Siberian ginseng and ginseng, which are also adaptogenic plants, roseroot is considered an “anti-stress remedy” and is now available in all forms: whether as tea, drops, powder or tablets – the market with the fragrant root is booming.
Nowadays the roseroot is mainly taken in the form of capsules. The capsules contain powder or extracts of the rootstock of the rose root.
Depending on the desired dosage, the capsules are taken once or several times a day. For the first time rose root capsules should be taken in the morning, preferably on an empty stomach.
In the evening it is better not to take the roseroot any more, because otherwise it could lead to insomnia.
Instead of a capsule, you can also use the rose-root as tea or as a tincture.
To make a roseroot tea, pour a cup of almost boiling water over one or two teaspoons of roseroot rhizome, leaves or blossoms and let it steep for 10 minutes. Then strain and drink the rose root tea in small sips.
One to three cups of this tea are drunk daily.
As with all strongly effective medicinal herbs, after six weeks of continuous use, one should take a break and temporarily drink another tea with similar effects. Afterwards you can drink rose root tea again for six weeks. This break prevents any undesirable long-term effects and the desired effectiveness of the herb is maintained and does not diminish through habituation.
To make a rose-root tincture yourself, pour double-grain or spirit of wine over the crushed rose-root in a screw-cap jar until all parts of the plant are covered and leave the mixture closed for 2 to 6 weeks. Then strain and fill into a dark bottle.
Take 10-50 drops of this tincture one to three times a day. If the tincture is too concentrated, you can dilute it with water. Occasionally you can also buy ready to use roseroot tincture.
Effect of roseroot
The effect of the rose root has been proven by medical studies. In these studies, the strengthening and stress-reducing properties of rose root were confirmed.
It is believed that roseroot slows down the breakdown of dopamine and serotonin, resulting in increased levels of these important substances. This mode of action also explains the benefits of roseroot for depression and Parkinson’s disease.
It is also believed that roseroot has a beneficial effect on the production of endophines, the body’s own painkillers and mood enhancers.
It is also suspected that roseroot reduces the release of stress hormones.
However, there are not yet sufficient medical studies on these effects on the hormones.
Traditionally, the roseroot belongs to the group of adaptogens. Adaptogens help to adapt to increased stress situations, both external and internal stress. This applies, for example, to stress at work, poor environmental conditions, noise pollution, high physical strain, but also anxiety and depression.
Other typical adaptogens are for example ginseng, schisandra, jiaogulan.
Applications of roseroot
Most applications of the rose root result from its property as an adaptogen.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommends roseroot for stress-related exhaustion, fatigue, physical performance, mental and cognitive performance, night shift-related fatigue, sleep architecture, episodes of mild to moderate depression, generalized anxiety disorders.
In Scandinavian and Russian folk medicine the rose root is used even more widely.
For example, the roseroot is traditionally used against many complaints of old age. The rose root is said to have a rejuvenating effect and prolong life.
Also against dementia illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, the rose root is said to help and thereby strengthen the memory.
It is also said to strengthen fertility and protect against unfulfilled desire for children and impotence.
During studies, roseroot is often used to increase mental performance, improve concentration and learning ability, and ultimately to help achieve better exam results.
Athletes use the rose root to improve their physical performance and achieve better training results.
Roseroot is also said to strengthen the immune system and thus protect against colds and other infectious diseases.
It is also said to help against diseases of the cardiovascular system and thus prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Even against cancer, according to popular belief, the roseroot is said to help. A strengthening effect for better coping with medical treatment is quite conceivable.
Roseroot can be used for these ailments and diseases
- cardiovascular diseases
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- concentration disorders
- defensive weakness
- senile decay
- susceptibility to infections
- weakness in performance
- weakness of memory
- blood circulation stimulating
- strengthening the immune system
- wound healing
Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.