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John Cousins (July)

To me Roseroot is the most improbable arctic alpine plant of them all. The Polar Regions and high summits conjure up barren regions and extreme weather conditions and yet here is a plant that looks like it would be more at home in a greenhouse or a rainforest. Its Latin name is Rhodiola rosea
(synonym Sedum Rosea) and many of its relations are characterised by succulent leaves and exotic origins. It is quite common on rocky outcrops in the Cwms of North Wales and I took this photo at about 650m on the Gribin Ridge in the Ogwen valley.

As you learn about arctic alpine plants it starts to dawn on you that a lot of the adaptations that have developed are similar to those of desert plants: succulent leaves, waxy surfaces and tightly packed leaf cushions are all ways of conserving water. It is hard to believe but the Roseroot and its neighbours have to be ready for drought because as soon as the rain stops (and it does occasionally) then there is little or no soil around them to retain it.

The list of roserootâÂ.Â.s beneficial qualities is long and it is being trailed as the alternative to Ginseng. It is thought to improve memory and help with the way the body manages stress. Some of its compounds benefit the heart by reducing the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Roseroot may also stabilize blood pressure, as well as blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It is also thought to be a strong antioxidant that might act to prevent cancer. Last but not least, roseroot appears to be a libido booster âÂ.Â. a kind of natural Viagra âÂ.Â. that works for both men and women.

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