Herb: Rose Root

Latin name: Rhodiola rosea

Synonyms: Sedum rhodiola, Sedum rosea

Family: Crassulaceae (Stonecrop Family)

Medicinal use of Rose Root:

Though little known as a medicinal plant, rose root has been used in traditional European medicine for over three thousand years, mainly as a tonic. Modern research has shown that it increases the body's resistance to any type of stress by regulating the body's hormonal response. Its use has been shown to have a protective effect upon the neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It improves neurotransmitter activity by inhibiting their enzymatic destruction and preventing their decline caused by excessive stress hormone release. Rose root also enhances the transport of serotonin's precursors into the brain and studies have shown that use of this herb can increase brain serotonin by up to 30%. The root is adaptogen. It has an enhancing effect upon physical endurance and sexual potency. A decoction of the flowers has been used to treat stomach aches and intestinal discomfort. The raw flowers have been eaten in the treatment of tuberculosis.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Crevices of mountain rocks and on sea cliffs.

Edible parts of Rose Root:

The young succulent leaves and shoots are eaten raw or cooked like spinach. A slightly bitter taste, we find them unpleasant on their own though they can be used as a small part of a mixed salad. They can be made into a sauerkraut. Stems - cooked and eaten like asparagus. Root - raw or cooked. It was fermented before being eaten by the N. American Indians.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 30cm apart each way. The dried root smells strongly of roses. They may be used to distil rose-water.

Propagation of Rose Root:

Seed - surface sow in a sunny position in a greenhouse in spring. Do not let the compost dry out. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 4 weeks at 10C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in early summer of the following year. Division in August to October. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings taken in the growing season. Basal shoots in early summer are easiest. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Crevices of mountain rocks and on sea cliffs.

Known hazards of Rhodiola rosea:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.