RHODIOLA ROSEA, also known as Golden Root, Rose Root and Aaron's Rod, is an ancient medicinal not well known in much of the western world, but long recognized in Eastern Europe and Asia for its incredible properties. It is also a beautiful decorative with chartreuse flowers and dense clusters of foliage, and its yellow roots (hence the common name) which contain powerful medicinal compounds and have the fragrance of old roses (hence its nickname and scientific name). The 6"-14" plants are best suited for colder climates and are very hardy - especially in arctic conditions. In fact, indigenous tribes in Siberia and the North American Eskimos traditionally use this for a wide range of illnesses and to improve general health. Perennial. 10 seeds.
MEDICINAL: Rhodiola is one of only two recognized North American adaptogens (ginseng being the other). It is touted by herbalists and alternative medicine gurus like Dr Weil as the "feel good" herb of the modern age. Its history shows it various uses. The plump leaves were used to treat cuts and burns (similar to aloe in that regard). A decoction of the flowers were used as a stomachic and to treat tuberculosis. But modern study has shown exciting potential for its ability to improve memory and mood. I always encourage my customers to do their own research before using any plant as a home-grown pharmaceutical. Wikipedia has a pretty good writeup, but it has been covered in Newsweek and medical journals as well.
GROWING TIPS: Not for beginners, a light-dependant germinator and dioecious (meaning it has separate male and female plants). Best sown directly in the garden (preferably in fall so it can have a period of cold stratification with snow cover), it can also be started in a container and given 6 weeks of artificial cold treatment. Sow 2 seeds per pot (and thin to one) in a lightweight sterilized mix. DO NOT COVER, just press the seed into the soil. Keep evenly moist but not soggy. Be patient. Germination can take 1-16 weeks, depending on many factors. Once germinated, expose to direct light. Harden off gradually before transplanting to the garden to avoid transplant shock and loss of the plant. You can also sow directly outdoors, keeping evenly moist until well established.