Not unlike: Blinks which also has reddish flesh-coloured stems, but the leaves of Roseroot are larger and slightly toothed at the ends.
Not dissimilar to:
Goldilocks Aster, but that has very narrow leaves and belongs to a different family, Asteraceae.
Some similarities to: Houseleek in the way that the leaves are arranged, which is another member of the Stonecrop Family.
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature :
No relation to :
Unlike most other Stonecrops, Roseroot has but four petals, rather than the normal five, sometimes six, rarer seven, of the other stonecrops. But even in Roseroot, it is possible to find 5-petalled flowers, such is the variability of Stonecrops. Being a Stonecrop, Roseroot is a succulent. It is also dioecious, with male and female flowers growing on separate plants.
The roots, but only when dried, smell of
Roses, hence the name. Planted on turfed roofs it is said to defend against lightning, presumably because the numerous points create a silent electric discharge when the electric field is high, dissipating the charge safely, or so theory may suggest. It may simply increase the likelihood of a lightning strike - after all - you wouldn't point a metal umbrella skywards in a thunderstorm!
More likely to be found growing in a garden than in the wild.
The root contains small amounts of the toxic
Cyanogenic Glycoside Lotaustralin which is also found in small amounts in the foreign plant
Austral Trefoil (Lotus australis) belonging to the Bird's-Foot Trefoil plants. It is also present in the non-native food-plant
Cassava (Manihol esculenta) and is one of the cyanogenic glycosides responsible for the (un-treated) toxicity of that plant. Lotaustralin is structurally similar to the toxic cyanogenic glycoside Linamarin, which is also found in these plants.
A FLAVONOL and its Rhamnoside
It contains the compound
Rhodionin, an chromen-4-one
rhamnoside, the rhamnoside of the chromenone
Herbacetin, and which is presumably a bright yellow colour. The moiety in red is the glycosidic unit
Rhamnose, which can be isolated from
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
The glycosidic phenyl propanoids are all constituents of Roseroot, and probably unique to Roseroot. They are all monoterpenoids. All are based loosely on para-Tyrosol, apart from Rosiridin and Rosiridol which have broken phenyl rings (bottom). Indeed, p-
Tyrosol is a component of Roseroot.
Rosavin and Rosaein are both double-glycosides, except that Rosarin has a terminating molecule of fructose rather than a glycoside with a six-membered ring.
Rosin (not to be confused with violin 'rosin' nor with the 'rosin' used for soldering with lead) and Salindroside are mono-glycosides, but Salindroside lacks a double bond in the aliphatic chain and gains a hydroxyl group on the terminating phenyl (far right). Salindroside (aka Rhodioloside) and along with Rosavin is thought responsible for the anti-depressant and anxiolytic properties of Roseroot when the dried roots of Roseroot are consumed.
Rosiridin is the glycoside of Rosiridol. Rosiridin is but one of a whole series of Rhodiolosides also present in Roseroot, Radiolosides A-E, all lacking a completed phenyl ring, but having differing side branches and/or glycosides. Rosiridin is one of the most pharmacologically active constituents of Roseroot and inhibits monoamine oxidase type A and B enzymes, and therefore should benefit those suffering from depression and senile dementia (not that it has been approved for such).
Discovered only recently,
Rhodiocyanosides are non-toxic glycosides containing a cyanide group, CN. Ordinarily, these compounds would be expected to be toxic, but neither within the body nor within the cells of the plant does an enzyme exist which will release the CN moiety (un-like with plants containing Cyanogenic Glycosides which are toxic).
Indeed, far from being toxic, these compounds have an anti-allergenic action and have been used in Chinese medicine (as Roseroot preparations) for centuries, if not for millennia.
The two Rhodiocyanosides differ from each other only in the position of the -C≡N moiety.
Many of the above Glycosidic Phenylpropanoids are based upon p-Tyrosol, which is a phenolic anti-oxidant. It is mainly present in Olive Oil and to a lesser extent in White Wine, and has considerable health benefits especially to aging hearts. It is a derivative of Phenylethyl Alcohol, depicted below.
More than 70 other compounds have been found in Roseroot, amongst them is
Geraniol which imparts the rose-like scent, but
Benzyl Alcohol and
Phenylethyl Alcohol; all contribute to its overall aroma.
Benzyl alcohol, a phenolic alcohol, is synthesized in many plants, and occurs in the essential oils of several including
Hyacinth. It has a mild pleasant aroma and is used as an organic solvent for inks, paints, lacquers and epoxy resin coatings, but dissolves only sparingly in water on account of its slight polar character. If ingested in high concentrations it is toxic inducing respiratory failure, vasodilation, hypotension, convulsions and finally paralysis, but is used medically in low concentrations as a preservative in intravenous injections. Because it has a similar refractive index as that of quartz (Benzyl Alcohol ~1.53-1.55, Quartz ~1.544, depending slightly upon temperature, wavelength and, in the case of quartz, orientation), it is used as a test for quartz: quartz objects become almost invisible when submerged.
Phenylethyl Alcohol (or Phenethyl Alcohol for short) is a colourless liquid, and occurs in the essential oils of many plants including
Carnation and last but not least
Roses. It smells of roses and is used both as a perfume and as a preservative in soap because it is stable in those alkaline conditions. It is also used as a general flavouring agent and a perfume, even in some cigarettes. It has antimicrobiotic effects.
Geraniol is an alcoholic monoterpenoid which occurs in small quantities in
Clary Sage and many essential oils of other plants. It too has a rose-like aroma and is used in perfumes and as flavourings (together with other aromatic compounds) to imitate the flavour of
Blueberry. It attracts bees yet repels mosquitos, and is used as a mosquito repellent. The scent glands of Honey bees manufacture geraniol for use as a scent marker to help them re-find their hives and nectar bearing flowers.
Geranyl Acetate is an monoterpene ester and a liquid with a slightly yellow tinge, and a rose-like smell. It is insoluble in water but soluble in some organic solvents such as alcohol. Another component of perfumes and flavourings, it is used in a variety of products such as creams and soaps, and where a rose, lavender or geranium scent is required. It occurs in the essential oils of over 60 plants including
Geranyl Formate is another monoterpene ester, and like many esters has a fruity aroma.
But these are not the only compounds that come out smelling of roses! There are the so-called Rose Ketones, which are also present in
Roses and some other flowers.
The extracts of Roseroot have been scientifically proven to significantly improve the physical strength and endurance of those with asthenic build, and also alleviates neurological symptoms associated with this condition. But which of the many constituents is responsible for the improvement has yet to be determined.