Native Botanicals

Native Botanicals

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Hi folks, yes it’s been a while since I last posted but don’t blame me, its summer and the pressure of classes just aren’t there.

Recently I came across a post on social media that claimed scientists found that Dandelion root kills cancer cells in a matter of hours. The article failed to reference who, what or why did the research and I could not find any references to back it up. That being said, don’t take everything you read for face value, do your own research.


Dandelion however, does have medicinal value and has been used for eons, I’ve attached the video below by Youtuber Blissomagirl for info on how to forage and process. My own yard is full of them and if I had it my own way it would be just one of the main plants growing; I think it’s silly to have a yard just for aesthetic appeal. Why grow grass just to cut over and over? Happy 4th of July to everyone.


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Tincture Update

How long did I let the Rhodiola marinate you ask? Three (3) weeks total. I don’t have a fancy wringer but I do have vegetable juicer and that was what I used to squeeze out the final product, (see pic below)
Initially I had a coffee filter under the juicer but the particulates immediately plugged the filter so I just used the screen.

Spooning in

The smell, although not bad, was quite strong. The entire process took just a few minutes. Below is the waste, the juicer was quite efficient at squeezing out every drop.

Ground by rpoduct

Below is a pic of the final product. It came out muddy looking. I tried again with the coffee filter and it immediately plugged up after a couple minutes but what did come out was semi-clear and rose colored.

Jar completed
After the jar sat for a week undisturbed there was a little bit of settling that occurred and it did look more appealing. Of course, it’s totally your call on how you want to handle it, this was just one of many methods I’m sure.
As for taste? It was a bit on the strong side I think from the alcohol. I did try a store bought extract made from glycerine and it wasn’t quite so strong, in both cases the Rhodiola taste was very distinct.

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Rhodiola Tincture

I decided to make some Tincture with the Rhodiola I posted on earlier. I used a standard canning jar with a bottle of Vodka.
Tip: Fill the jar just below half with your product, the Rhodiola sucked up the Vodka like a sponge and it was almost too much for the jar. I will let this sit for about 6 weeks, turning occasionally to keep it well mixed.




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Rhodiola Rosea


Rhodiola Rosea, Also called Roseroot, Goldenroot, or Arctic Root, it is a perennial plant with a thick rhizome and yellow, fragrant flowers.

Several months ago, I had purchased a bottle of Rhodiola in capsule form from my local grocery store; it claimed to promote energy with resistance to stress. Like many health supplements I purchase I tend to forget about them until they have long expired. This weekend I planned on putting in several hours of homework and came across my dusty bottle and popped a single capsule preparing for a long day of research.
Rhodiola, what is this perennial with claims to promote energy? I recalled a while back the local paper published an article about a local Rhodiola grower and a quick search led me to Dr. Petra Illig who runs the website Alaska Rhodiola or; after a brief email tag, we established a time to call and discuss this wondrous perennial.
When I called, Petra was in the process of heading out the door to catch a flight but graciously agreed to continue with the interview; as she spoke the background filled with sounds of goodbyes, a shutting door, ice crunching under foot and ticketing; a true multi-tasker.
Petra’s curiosity was piqued way back in 2008 after reading an article in Science News about Rhodiola and how it had once been a Soviet military secret with beneficial health properties. Petra grew up around farmers in South Dakota and is well steeped in the farming lifestyle; Petra was also aware of the struggle Alaskan farmers face trying to grow things that are just too difficult to grow in a Northern climate. It soon dawned on Petra that maybe, this could be something that could be easily cultivated in Alaska and being a high value crop, could give much needed income to local farmers.

Petra began to Research Rhodiola and managed to get some seeds from a scientist with instructions how to grow; in a course of 2 years she managed to produce 100,000 seedlings in her front yard. Petra now needed farm land to test them and managed to get a few local farmers to place them in their fields.  Rhodiola grew so well that Petra decided to start a farmer’s co-op, this was 2010 and in a few years they had their first harvest. Today they have expanded with more growers and processing facilities and have started selling product.

Growing Rhodiola requires a lot of patience and work. Growing it one would think of poking a hole in bare earth, tossing in a seed, covering, watering and watching it grow; not with Rhodiola. There is a whole entire process called “breaking dormancy” that must be followed, there are 2 differing processes and if interested you can read the methods on her website here. Petra feels that they are on a viable path to a new agricultural industry here in Alaska based just on Rhodiola. Petra stated that it takes 4 to 5 years for the plants to reach maturity; requiring a lot of maintenance by the farm but the returns have been great, with increased interest from botanical companies and of course more production. From yielding only 200 pounds the first year and going to 800 last year, Petra envisions they will soon be up to thousands of pounds.

Petra grows Rhodiola using the best organic methods and says they are fresh unlike many Rhodiola products on the market. She has heard some of the Rhodiola being obtained from Russia is harvested from remote villages with no regard for quality control; having been laid out for days at a time and perhaps weeks before even getting to a production facility. Petra states that from their own research they know that the beneficial compounds in Rhodiola begin to break down within a few days of harvest. Petra also added that, although Rhodiola is a hardy plant, its roots will deteriorate rapidly if not washed and dried properly; even rough handling will bruise it and diminish it’s potency. Petra’s farms follow proper protocol by gentle handling, washing, drying and storing of their product in a temperature controlled environment.

Currently Petras farms sell the product in a ground form for tea’s and have started with making and selling tincture; Petra stated that eventually they will be producing bottled teas and sports drinks but with her background as a physician, her goal is to produce high quality, standardized doses in a capsule form.

The following is a list of its major known beneficial effects:

•enhanced physical endurance and performance
•decreases effects of stress on the body
•counters high altitude sickness
•restorative female and male reproductive functions

It should be noted that there is no known toxicity.

Thank you, Petra, for your time and contribution. I wish you continued success in all your endeavors with Rhodiola.

I was so intrigued I made a trip to All about Herbs and purchased a large bag of Rhodiola tea and tossed out that dusty old pill bottle. For the gardeners out there the package also comes with a small packet of seeds so you can grow your own. You can also find their products in Anchorage at the Natural Pantry and from time to time you can find Petra at the Sears Mall Center Market


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Pine Needle Tea

pinePine Needle Tea has been used for centuries by Native Americans and unusually, is not so well known by the general public. It has high levels of vitamin C and was used by early North American settlers to avoid scurvy.

Some of the health benefits are:

  • Relieves bronchial and sinus infections
  • Disinfects mildew, yeast spores and Escherichia coli
  • Protects against the common cold and flu
  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Guards against muscle degeneration, eye diseases and nervous system disorders
  • Useful for treating eczema, Athlete’s foot, psoriasis, dandruff, acne and boils

Studies have also shown Pine Needles to have a strong effect against cancer cells.

How to make tea:
My co-worker Tillie Moore makes this wonderful concoction and has graciously agreed to share her recipe with me and the world.
1 three quart cooking pot filled with water, boiling
4 to 5 bunches new growth Pine Needles
1 or 2 green tea bags
1 or 2 chamomile  tea bags
2 dashes cinnamon
honey to taste
Simmer all ingredients together in the pot until Pine Needles feel soft (about 15 min)
Pour a cup and enjoy, good for bad colds. Tillie has added, it contains vitamin C, K, A, anti-oxidants, beta-carotene, thiamin and riboflavin.
Thank you Tillie for your contribution.

Additionally, check this link out: The surprising health benefits of Pine Needle Tea
And once again I cant stress enough, proper plant identification. If you haven’t done this before then at least harvest with someone knowledgeable.

Stay tuned, more to come 🙂







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Plant Identification


While surfing about I came across a great Facebook site entitled “Plant Identification” who’s sole purpose is to provide a fast and accurate ID on plants throughout the world. Although it is not specifically Alaska themed, I thought it would be of some use here.

You can find the link by clicking here

Did you know there’s an app for that? Yes, there are several free apps that can help with plant identification from house plants to shrubs, trees and moss in the wild. If you have an Android phone just go to your store and type in Plant ID, Apple phones probably through the i-store?

Also if you are new to harvesting plants it would be best to head out with someone with some experience under their belt as many plants tend to look alike; you wouldn’t want to pick the wrong plant for ingesting, that mistake could be very dangerous.