I'm an ecologist by profession. My dissertation was about Rhodiola rosea, a plant that has been used in the traditional medicine for decades. AMA!

Mariam
Jun 22, 2017

As a result of its over-exploitation Rhodiola rosea has become very rare. Its habitat are high rocky mountains. My work will help protect the species and will allow the cultivation of plants, providing high quality row material. Ask me anything! 

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What are some of the more unique characteristics of this particular plant?

Jun 21, 8:57PM EDT0

Rhodiola has many characteristic features - morphological, ecological, biological and phytochemical. Its uniqueness lies in the content of rosavin - a cinnamyl alcohol glycoside found in the plant. It is one of the compounds responsible for the antidepressant and anxiolytic actions of this plant, along with salidroside (which is not unique for Rhodiola and appears in other plants).

Another unique feature, in my view, is Rhodiola’s variability - the morphological and phytochemical characteristics of individual plants, even of genetically identical clones, differ significantly, even in the same conditions.

Jun 22, 4:13AM EDT0
Show all 4 replies

As an ecologist what has been your favorite subject to work on?

Jun 21, 4:29AM EDT0

Most of the subjects, that I have worked with are my favorite - I found every subject related to the ecology for interesting and challenging. But if I have to choose only one - this will be the reptiles - I really love this class of animals. 

Jun 22, 3:56AM EDT0

What are some of the more unique characteristics of this particular plant?

Jun 20, 2:49PM EDT0

Rhodiola has many characteristic features - morphological, ecological, biological and phytochemical. Its uniqueness lies in the content of rosavin - a cinnamyl alcohol glycoside found in the plant. It is one of the compounds responsible for the antidepressant and anxiolytic actions of this plant, along with salidroside (which is not unique for Rhodiola and appears in other plants).

Another unique feature, in my view, is Rhodiola’s variability - the morphological and phytochemical characteristics of individual plants, even of genetically identical clones, differ significantly, even in the same conditions.

Jun 22, 4:16AM EDT0

What kind of medicines have been made out of this plant?

Jun 20, 8:40AM EDT0

Since 1969, R. rosea has been included in official medicine (first-in Russia). The product, recommended for medicinal use and industrial production is liquid R. rosea extract - an alcohol-based extract (40 percent ethyl alcohol). Medical and pharmacological texts describe its use as a stimulant for asthenia (fatigue), for somatic and infectious illnesses, in psychiatric and neurological conditions, and in healthy individuals to relieve fatigue and to increase attention span, memory, and work productivity. The common dose is 5-10 drops 2-3 times a day, 15-30 minutes before eating for a period of 10-20 days. From the plant (alone or with other components) are being produced number of preparations – tonics, pills, teas, etc.

Jun 22, 2:51AM EDT0

What other plants do you guys have in mind to replace the use of the Rhodiola in medicine?

Jun 20, 7:48AM EDT0

There have been many surveys, aiming to replace Rhodiola rosea with other species from the same genus. But the results show that Rhodiola rosea is actually unique - no other plant has her phytochemical and pharmaceutical properties. 

Jun 20, 11:06AM EDT0

There have been many surveys, aiming to replace Rhodiola rosea with other species from the same genus. But the results show that Rhodiola rosea is actually unique - no other plant has her phytochemical and pharmaceutical properties. 

Jun 21, 7:58AM EDT0

Do any animals consume this plant as a food source?

Jun 20, 7:07AM EDT0

In the habitats, where I have observed Rhodiola in my country (Bulgaria) there are no large animals, which could use it as a food. I have only seen the leaves eaten by insects. May be in other countries animals use it as a food source - the plant is eatable, rich of vitamins and minerals. In some parts of the world people use it to make salads.  

Jun 22, 2:56AM EDT0

Is this plant considered to be a flowering plant?

Jun 20, 3:38AM EDT0

Yes, it is a flowering plant. It has beautiful small yellow blossoms - dozens on the top of each stem. 

Jun 21, 7:59AM EDT0

What is the cost of medicine that the Rhodiala rosea is made of?

Jun 19, 10:44AM EDT0

There is a huge amount of products made by Rhodiola, row material can also be purchased to prepare your own extract. And they have all different prices. But in general the Rhodiola rosea preparations are not expensive.

Jun 19, 12:28PM EDT0

Did you do any internships while on your way to becoming an ecologist?

Jun 19, 2:54AM EDT0

No, I havent. I have only visited different courses in different institutions to improve my skills. Some of them are ArcGis Spatial Analyst, Biostatistics, Statistics in the ecology, Biotechnological methods for ex situ conservation of the biodiversity, Cultivation of medicinal plants, StatSoft Statistica & SPSS, Marine mammals observations, etc.

Jun 19, 12:27PM EDT0

What is the color of the Rhodiala rosea plant?

Jun 18, 11:47AM EDT0

It blooms in yellow. The leaves and stem are green, and the fruits are red. Here is a picture of blossoning Rhodiola: 

Jun 18, 2:20PM EDT0

Did you have your dissertation published in a publication that I can find?

Jun 18, 2:23AM EDT0

I do not have the entire dissertation published. I had a proposal to be published as a book, but I did not have time to translate it into English (it is in Bulgarian). I have parts of it published in few publications in scientific journals and conference proceedings - if you are interested you can find them here:

 www.researchgate.net/profile/Mariam_Bozhilova

Jun 18, 3:59AM EDT0

Is this plant considered to be a flowering plant?

Jun 17, 11:44PM EDT0

Yes, it is a flowering plant. It has beautiful small yellow blossoms - dozens on the top of each stem.

Jun 18, 4:09AM EDT0

What is some advice that you would give someone interested in ecology?

Jun 17, 10:43PM EDT0

In my opinion someone has to work in the conservation only if this is his personal conscious choice, his dream and his conviction. If you have to be convinced to work in the ecology - this is not your career path. Engage in work as an ecologist only if you really love what you will do.

Last edited @ Jun 18, 2:19PM EDT.
Jun 18, 2:17PM EDT0

What Universities offer the best programs to become an Ecologist?

Jun 17, 8:18PM EDT0

Unfortunately, I will not be able to give you an answer that would be useful to you - I can say for sure only about my country - Bulgaria, but I suppose it is not your interest. In Bulgaria the best university is the Sofia University where there is a Department of Ecology - in my opinion this is the best place to study this specialty in the country.

Jun 22, 3:02AM EDT0

What is the best season for the cultivation of this plant?

Jun 17, 5:09PM EDT0

The plant is perennial. If cultivated by seeds or in vitro, it takes many years for the plants to grow enough to collect the material. In vegetative propagation crops can be harvested in the third year. The part of the plant, that is used in the medicine is the rhizome, so the best period to havrest it is the autumn. 

Jun 18, 4:01AM EDT0

Since you are working with these plants, are you working in the Colorado area?

Jun 17, 9:18AM EDT0

No, I work in Europe, in Bulgaria. The field, where I'm cultivating the plant is located in the Rhodope mountain, the natural localities of the plants are located in Rila and Pirin mountains. 

Jun 18, 5:12PM EDT0

What is some advice that you would give someone interested in ecology?

Jun 17, 8:10AM EDT0

In my opinion someone has to work in the conservation only if this is his personal conscious choice, his dream and his conviction. If you have to be convinced to work in the ecology - this is not your career path. Engage in work as an ecologist only if you really love what you will do.

Last edited @ Jun 18, 2:18PM EDT.
Jun 18, 2:17PM EDT0

What is the color of the Rhodiala rosea plant?

Jun 17, 5:43AM EDT0

It blooms in yellow. The leaves and stem are green, and the fruits are red. Here is a picture of blossoning Rhodiola: 

Last edited @ Jun 18, 4:08AM EDT.
Jun 18, 4:06AM EDT0

Since becoming an ecologist, where has been your favorite place to work and see?

Jun 17, 12:45AM EDT0

Rhodiola grows in the highest parts of the Bulgarian mountains - on cliffs and rocks, often in waterfalls. My favourite place to work is exactly her habitat. Here are some pictures of tipical Rhodiola rosea habitats I have taken few years ago: 

Jun 18, 4:14AM EDT0

Does this plant cause any allergic reactions in certain individuals?

Jun 16, 10:15PM EDT0

Yes, some people may have an allergic reaction to Rhodiola rosea because it is derived from a plant source. An allergic reaction to Rhodiola occurs when the body overproduces histamine because it mistakes Rhodiola for a toxic compound. An allergic reaction to Rhodiola rosea may cause hives, swelling of the face, throat and neck, difficulty breathing, nausea and heart palpitations.

Jun 22, 3:06AM EDT0