Monday, 1 July 2013


This is roseroot, a plant that seems to thrive on rocky shores - its neighbour on this little patch is thrift, famous for enjoying spots where it is regularly bathed in sea spray.  Roseroot, Radiola rosea, has a fleshy rootstock which smells of roses when cut.

It is one of those plants which has a history of providing interesting alternative medicines, offering cures for cancer, anxiety, influenza, the common cold, bacterial infections, and migraines. It is also used as an antidepressant.  Its root is reported to contain some 140 different chemicals, so it's almost bound to be good for something.

Despite stern warnings against its use from august bodies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The Diary is very interested in it as, in one experiment, R. rosea extract was found to increase the life span of fruit flies by 24%.

The picture comes from Kilchoan Early Bird who found it near the lighthouse.

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird for the picture.


  1. Jon, I recommend Allen and Hatfield's Medicinal Plants In Folk Tradition - An Ethnobotany of Britain and Ireland ISBN 0-88192-638-8. Although light on details about radiola it is nonetheless excellent, with a superb bibliography. I have found that on Scotlands north west coast present day patches of medicinal plants can be a clue to identifying long abandoned former settlement sites. Sorrel is a particularily good example, seeming to have been widely grown pre clearances, and is a dogged survivor. Find some, and odds on you've found former habitation.

  2. Many thanks for the reference, also for the very useful point about sorrel. Jon